Local businesses welcome full Phase 1 of Florida's COVID-19 recovery plan

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Florida is officially entering full Phase 1 of the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

Firefly restaurant in Panama City Beach sits empty Monday morning as employees prepare to reopen with the new 50% capacity restriction. (WJHG/WECP)

“The people that want to stay home will probably stay home, and those that want to come out will come out. I mean, we’re doing all we can do to kind of get the place clean and sanitized and doing all we can on our end, and we're just looking forward to seeing more people this weekend,” said Dave Trepanier, owner of Firefly in Panama City Beach.

Places like restaurants, stores, and gyms can bump up operations from 25% to 50% capacity.

Trepanier said, “that’ll be easier for us to manage. You know the 25% was hard, but you know we got through it and we had a good weekend last weekend and we’re looking forward to a great memorial day weekend.”

The governor is also encouraging outdoor seating at restaurants.

“You can call us and we’ll run things out to your car, so we do curbside pickup. We do a lot of FaceTime selling,” said Ashley McDaniel, store manager of Plum Delightful in Panama City.

At Plum Delightful, the new social distancing guidelines means finding creative ways of operating business. McDaniel said, “we’ve done a lot online through Facebook, so it’s a really good way to interact with people and still be at home and still be here so you could still social distance and then sell stuff online.”

For the Sweat Shak, Monday not only marks the official start of Phase 1, but it’s also their reopening day

“It kind of feels like we’re reopening again for the first time. Everything is kind of new because we’re still trying to transition into doing regular classes and virtual classes,” said Megan Morse, co-owner of the Sweat Shak.

“We have to have, you know, the six feet distance, social distancing. We’re very careful about making sure everyone is sanitizing everything, washing their hands when they first get here. We’re going over our guidelines when they get here, they have to sign a form to make sure they’ll follow them,” said Morse.

Barber shops and salons may also operate based on previously announced safety protocols, while museums and libraries may also operate at 50% capacity. Things like elective surgeries can also continue.

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