SWFL leaders look at steps to reopening economy

Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

As the country and Southwest Florida move closer to reopening, what do you want to see open first?

There’s general agreement that outdoor spaces should top the list, but the big question is when? And does each city and county go it alone?

Leaders agree they want to reopen the local economy safely. What that looks like is hard to say. Gov. Ron DeSantis gave Jacksonville the go-ahead to open its beaches back up for a few hours only – and with social distancing strictly enforced.

Commissioner Penny Taylor doesn’t see that happening in Collier County just yet.

“For the county, I don’t think it would be the beaches right away,” she said. “Yes, there seems to be some flattening of the curve right now, but we don’t have enough testing.”

Testing is the key. We still do not have widespread testing or very much rapid testing, and commissioners and mayors must use test results to help decide when to reopen – and how.

“The data doesn’t support opening up right now,” Taylor said.

Charlotte County Commissioner Bill Truex said he hopes to make something by May 1.

“I think one of the first things we’re going to be asked to open are public beaches, and I think people really wanna get back into a restaurant to some extent,” he said.

“Getting people the ability to at least walk in a several thousand-acre park, I think that’d be good for their health,” said Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman.

Cape Coral plans to debate opening parks during its council meeting Monday afternoon.

“I think we should look to do that very soon, as early as Monday,” said Cape Mayor Joe Coviello.

Taylor said the region needs to join forces to reopen.

“We don’t necessarily have to do everything at the same time but it is a good idea for us based on the situation on the ground within our own counties to try and move together,” Hamman said.

The leaders agree they will consult with local health experts before making any decisions about reopening our local economy.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.