Monday, May 18 marked the first day of Full Phase 1 as defined by Governor Ron DeSantis for the recovery of the State of Florida. The Executive Order allows restaurants to increase indoor capacity from the previously allowed 25% to 50%, while still encouraging outdoor seating. Retail stores may now operate at 50% capacity indoors also.
Gyms and fitness centers were allowed to open for the first time since DeSantis closed them on March 20. Museums and libraries were given permission to open at 50% capacity providing local governments approved.
Mound House & Bay Oaks
Responding to the Governor’s new guidelines, the Town of Fort Myers Beach announced late Monday, May 18 that they would open the Mound House Museum and the weight & cardio rooms at Bay Oaks Recreational Center on Tuesday, May 19. The Bay Oaks exercise rooms would be limited to 4 people at the top of each hour for a maximum 45-minute session. Then the room and equipment would be sanitized before the next group of four would be allowed in to exercise. Reservations are required at least two hours in advance by calling 239-765-4222. Reservations will be taken for the start of each hour from 8am – 7pm Monday – Friday and 10am – 7pm on Saturday. Walk-ins will not be allowed.
The Mound House Museum will be open Tuesday and Saturday from 9 am to 4pm. They will allow 50% of their usual capacity into the museum for self-guided tours. All guests at Bay Oaks and the Mound House will be expected to follow social distancing and CDC guidelines.
The grounds at the Mound House and Bay Oaks remain open from sunrise to sunset. The Community Pool, ball fields, public restrooms and playground at Bay Oaks remain closed.
Vacation Rentals Still Banned
In his Full Phase 1 order, effective May 18, DeSantis opened the door for individual counties to request approval to allow vacation rentals by submitting a written request and a safety plan to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Vacation rentals of 30 days or less have been banned statewide since March 29. The Governor’s original Executive Order 20-87, was for a two-week period, but it was later extended. The Town of Fort Myers Beach issued a Declaration of Emergency Regulation No.2 on March 29, 2020, which banned all short-term lodging, including vacation rentals, hotels, resorts and time shares within the town for 90 days. This was later amended to expire May 15. Vacation rentals of less than 30 days remain banned throughout the state by DeSantis’ order.
As of May 18, bars and movie theaters remain closed, though DeSantis’ latest order allows professional sports venues to open for games, events and training. Schools remain closed except for distance learning and long term care facilities are still not allowed visitors. Amusement parks may submit re-opening plans to the state. The governor opened barbershops, hair and nail salons May 11 with required safety protocols.