Charlotte County officials say lesser-hit area should fully reopen more quickly

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Published: Updated:

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s dire testimony comes as leaders here in Southwest Florida say they want more industries to get back to work.

As customers make their way back inside restaurants, Charlotte County commissioners say it’s not as hard hit as other areas of our state.

Hostess Jennifer Newman, at Wally’s Southern Barbecue in Port Charlotte, is ready for the regulars to return and says, “We have a lot of people who really just enjoy great barbecue and they have been very good to us.”

But state rules require restaurants to limit indoor seating to 25% of capacity. And fewer customers mean less in tips.

Newman explains, “The more they are able to sit, the more we are able to make.”

Charlotte County Commission Chairman Bill Truex says, “We have been in support of these movements so far and we would be in support of them moving forward a little bit faster.”

Faster because of Charlotte County’s numbers – 357 positive cases – with more than 40% of patients in long-term care facilities.

That makes the county one of the lesser-hit areas of Florida.

DOCUMENTS: FAQ for Executive Order 20-112 Phase 1 reopening | Task Force plan for reopening

Truex and the rest of the commission want Governor Ron DeSantis to consider reopening the county faster, following the re-open Florida Task Force’s Phase I recommendations.

“Opening too slow is detrimental to the economy, both for our local communities and for the state,” Truex said.

So instead of operating at 25% capacity, shops and restaurants would expand to 50% and you’d get to workout at your neighborhood gym.

“They have a lot of cleaning supplies in there,” Truex added, “they have a lot of sanitation wipes they have hand sanitizer stations around.”

Commissioners say if those numbers spike, we may need to step on the brakes, prioritizing what’s best for businesses and its employees.

The governor’s task force recommends re-opening bars, nightclubs, and vacation rentals in Phase II.

That will start after DeSantis consults with health officials and determines Florida is ready for the next phase.

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