By Joan Murray

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward has been given the green light by Gov. Ron DeSantis to begin a Phase 1 reopening on Monday, May 18th.

The county plans 50 percent capacity for retail and restaurants which is more than the 25 percent capacity in places around the state

“I think this will be a help to our community and small businesses especially restaurants” said Broward County Mayor Dale Holness.

DeSantis announced Thursday he signed an Executive Order which also gives Miami-Dade consent to begin Phase 1 reopenings on the same day.

Both counties were the last in the state to begin reopenings.

RELATED: Gov. Ron DeSantis Approves Phase One Reopening For Miami-Dade

Miami-Dade and Broward will be in a similar vein with that and part of the reason why I think it makes sense because they have progressed nicely in terms of dealing with the epidemic,” said DeSantis.

“There was a time when Broward was testing 15 percent or 16 percent were coming back positive and now they are, even all of the tests from the whole time, are now under 10 percent. That is a really good trend,” he added.

The governor noted over the last two weeks, there was a 40 percent decrease in ICU patients and a 56 percent decrease in patients on ventilators.

“The date and the facts are very clear that Southeast Florida, even though they had to face the most significant epidemic in the State of Florida, they flattened the curve, their hospitals were never. They had a lot of space throughout most of the period and they are ready to move to Phase 1,” said the governor.

WATCH: GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS PRESS CONFERENCE ON MIAMI-DADE, BROWARD PHASE 1 REOPENINGS

 

DeSantis said the plans he approved for Miami-Dade and Broward have identical approaches in every respect.

“They will have the exact same approach on everything, but they are collaborating and coordinating on key issues that will affect both counties and will affect the Southeast region. I think that is the appropriate approach and from the very beginning, we worked collaboratively with both counties,” he said.

Broward County Mayor Dale Holness speaks at press conference with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in Doral on May 14, 2020. (CBS4)

Broward Mayor Holness thanked the governor for his administration’s support.

“We must work in a collaborative manner as we go forward to beath this COVID-19 virus, said Holness.

Holness pointed out the mayors of Broward County have been quite supportive.

“At the outset of this, we were somewhat not together. But I can tell you over time we realized the importance of the entire community working together to ensure that we are beating this COVID-19 virus,” he said.

Holness said it was the mayors’ consensus to open on May 18th.

The mayor said their plan is very similar to Miami-Dade’s but there are some differences.

“For example, we’re going to allow homeowners associations at apartment complexes to have their gyms open but in a limited way with the caution that we have utilized over time to get us where we are now,” said Holness.

The mayor also addressed the proverbial elephant in the room – beaches.

“The consensus of our mayors was that we wait until at least May 26th before we do any opening of the beaches. And in our conversations with (Miami-Dade) Mayor Gimenez, we agreed that it is best that we do it together as a region. If we open one section of the beach, and the others are not open, we’ll have the crowding and get back to where we were, not where we want to be,” said Holness.

Holness said they will continue to work together to continue the downward spiral that they have seen.

“At one point we were up to 242 tests a day that were positive in Broward County. We are now as low as 21 in the last couple of days. So we are definitely on the right track, on the right pathway, to get to where we need to go, so we can get back to where we can work together to bring prosperity to all of the people of Soth Florida,” he said.

Holness acknowledged it’s going to be a “long, hard haul” to revive the economy to where they were before but it can be done by working together.

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