TALLAHASSEE, FLA. — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis touted the early completion of highway projects on May 18, saying the state was able to take advantage of lighter traffic as people were stuck at home.
His announcement in Orlando came as the two counties hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, Miami-Dade and Broward, began reopening restaurants and shops at limited capacity.
“Many states throughout the country, they stopped all construction. They stopped manufacturing as well. I think that was a big mistake. We did not do that in Florida. We kept construction going. We knew we could do it safely,” DeSantis told reporters gathered near an Interstate 4 interchange where new highway ramps were opening.
“Today’s ramp openings come more than three months ahead of schedule,” DeSantis said.
He said more than 40 projects were accelerated, saving more than 650 total contract days.
May 18 was also the day Florida allowed restaurants and shops in most of its counties to expand restaurant and retail operations from 25 to 50 per cent capacity and allowed gyms, libraries and museums to reopen at limited capacity.
“Gyms and fitness centres, they’re subjected to strict sanitation protocols, but those are allowed to be reopened today,” DeSantis said. “I think that that’s going to be a relief for a lot of people who have wanted to get back to the gym, so we’re glad that’s going on.”
DeSantis also said Florida is ready to allow professional sports to start holding games again. He also extended a welcome for teams to come to Florida if their home states won’t let them compete.
“Many of those leagues that have teams in states that won’t allow that competition. We can find places here in Florida,” DeSantis said. “We believe that getting sports back online is important for kind of the nation’s mojo.”
He also encouraged theme parks to submit plans to be able to reopen safely.
“I’m not saying this is going to happen tomorrow,” he said. “I think you’ve already seen some theme parks in other parts of the world open and I know we are going to get that done here.”
Florida has had more than 45,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus resulting in nearly 2,000 deaths, according to statistics provided by the state.