On Friday, Sept. 4, at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner gave an update on local COVID-19 mitigation efforts and plans for an incremental Phase 2 re-opening, allowing additional businesses and services in Palm Beach County to resume operations. Joining him were Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County, Commissioner Mack Bernard, County Administrator Verdenia Baker and Assistant County Administrator Patrick Rutter.
As of Thursday, the daily positivity rate in Palm Beach County was 3.6 percent; statewide 5.1 percent. There were 119 new cases of COVID-19 in the county Thursday, with four new hospitalizations and 10 additional fatalities reported. The county’s daily lab positivity rate has been below the goal of 5 percent since Aug. 17. “That makes all the difference in the world,” Alonso said. “It means our viral load is going down.” She cautioned there is still a long way to go before the area can attain herd immunity.
Phase 2 — Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued Executive Order #20-214, approving Palm Beach County to move into Step 1 of its five-step incremental Phase 2 re-opening plan. “We have moved as aggressively as possible and as safely as possible,” Kerner said. “Now, it is up to each Palm Beach County resident to make sure our entering into incremental Phase 2 and advancing through the steps is done carefully, cautiously, and in compliance.” Emergency Order 2020-012 requiring the wearing of facial coverings remains in full force and social distancing should be maintained.
Step 1 — Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8, retail stores, museums, libraries, personal services not already open, and gyms and fitness centers may operate at full capacity. Movie theaters, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment centers may operate at 50 percent capacity; playhouses at 33 percent. Skating rinks are limited to a maximum of 25 skaters. Escape rooms can host private parties only, no more than six people per room, with staggered start times. Restaurants may serve food and alcohol on premises until midnight Emergency Order 2020-023. Indoor dining capacity remains at 50 percent, but full capacity is allowed in outdoor areas if social distancing protocols are met. Patrons will be allowed to order food and beverages at the bar inside the restaurant.
Still Closed — Bars, nightclubs, auditoriums, bingo parlors, comedy clubs, concert halls, cigar/hookah bars, pool/billiard halls and arcades remain closed.
Schools — The actual opening date for schools will be determined by the Palm Beach County School Board. The date was set as Monday, Sept. 21.
CECT — The COVID Education & Compliance Team (CECT) will be out this weekend with an emphasis on education and compliance of local orders. To date, more than 6,000 complaints have been received and investigated and 61 notices of violation issued.
Beaches — All county-owned and operated beaches and beach parks are open. Beaches in the Town of Palm Beach are closed this holiday weekend.
Census — Bernard reminded residents who did not return their 2020 U.S. Census form that a census worker will be visiting their home to assist with completing the form. “We must make sure everyone in every household is counted,” he said. The census response deadline is Sept. 30.