Tampa closes roads to allow restaurants, retailers to operate outside with social distancing

The city of Tampa on Tuesday closed off multiple streets to allow restaurants and retailers to operate outside as part of a pilot program to gradually reopen the city after weeks of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of Tampa’s Lift Up Local Economic Recovery Plan, Café & Retail Recovery Zones reserved city roads, parking lots, and sidewalks for some businesses to operate.

The city said the road closures will be in place 24 hours per day over the next two weeks.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said the pilot program is intended to “lift up our local businesses through this recovery and empower them to re-open responsibly.”

“By giving our local business owners as many tools and as much space as possible to safely serve guests, we can work together to protect our workforce, our customers, and our community,” she said. “Our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we need their help to safely and successfully re-open our city and get back to all the things we love–one step at a time.”

Businesses allowed to operate outside must ensure customers abide by social distancing rules and limit indoor capacity to 25 percent.

Tampa’s plans come amid Florida’s preparations to enter phase one of reopening the economy.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” he will exercise caution but has been looking forward to making progress.

As of Tuesday, Florida has recorded nearly 37,000 cases of the novel coronavirus with some 1,400 deaths.

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