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Ron DeSantis: Florida ‘lifting all restrictions on youth activities’
This includes summer camps.
School may be out, but summer camp is back in.
Tampa Bay May 22, 2020:
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that he was ending all restrictions on youth activities across the state, including camps and youth sports. The declaration was the governor’s latest move to wake Florida from its coronavirus-induced economic slumber.
However, the Republican governor said he would not prevent municipalities from imposing more restrictive rules.
“We believe that this makes sense based on the data and observed experience. We are not going to be instituting a lot of rules, or really any rules,” DeSantis said Friday, noting the Florida Department of Health would likely post a list of best practices to its website. “At the end of the day, we trust parents to be able to make decisions in conjunction with physicians.”
DeSantis’ announcement, which came at a news conference in Jacksonville, dovetailed with the plans of some Tampa Bay area officials, and conflicted with others.
Last week, Hillsborough County’s Department of Parks and Recreation cancelled its series of summer camps.
Hillsborough Commission Chairman Les Miller Jr. said the county was awaiting the official executive order from the governor’s office before deciding its next step. As of late Friday, DeSantis’ office had yet to post the executive order. Miller said county officials would follow the order. Pinellas officials said Friday they have a similar plan.
Miller, however, noted it could be difficult for Hillsborough to open its camps with additional potential restrictions such as social distancing, limited group sizes or masks.
“We’d have to put a lot of things in place before we open up the gates and say, “Come on in,’” said Miller.
On Thursday, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced the city was opening its summer camps starting June 1.
“We’re continuing ahead with our summer school because people can’t get back to work if they don’t have some type of care for their children,” Mayor Jane Castor said on a Cafe Con Tampa Facebook live stream Friday. “And so we realized that and we’re going to open up our summer camps.”
Ashley Bauman, Castor’s spokeswoman, said DeSantis’ announcement had little to do with the city’s plans to reopen summer camps because the city considers camps to be child care. That type of care was never banned under the governor’s previous restrictions, Bauman said.
Later Friday, Castor said in a statement she would “wholeheartedly support” the governor’s decision to reopen youth sports, provided it was done safely.
St. Petersburg announced last week that its summer camps will proceed at a limited capacity.
A spokeswoman for YMCA of the Suncoast and the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA said the organizations would wait until the full executive order had been released to comment.
Related: Tampa Bay summer camps: Some are canceled, others set to open with changes
DeSantis contended that youth activities — schools, most notably — were closed in the first place because, in the early days of the pandemic, it was believed children would spread the disease to other, more vulnerable populations.
But children haven’t turned out to be very effective spreaders of the illness, the governor argued Friday.
Related: Florida coronavirus cases near 50,000, as state adds 46 deaths
“The data is pretty clear that, for whatever reason, kids don’t seem to get infected at the same rates that some other adults get infected,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also noted that children are much less likely to face serious consequences from the novel coronavirus. In Florida, five in six coronavirus deaths have come from people 65 and over. Zero people under 25 have died from the disease, DeSantis no
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