FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Florida's decision to fully reopen bars and restaurants is 'very concerning,' according to the top infectious disease expert in the country.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that the decision may lead to another outbreak, according to statements he made Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"That is very concerning to me," Fauci told the morning show. "When you're dealing with community spread, and you have the kind of congregate setting where people get together, particularly without masks, you're really asking for trouble."
In fact, now is the time to double down a bit, Fauci said. And by that, he says he didn't mean to shut everything down. Instead, he's asking that people exercise common sense.
"When I say that, people get concerned that we're talking about shutting down," he said. "We're not talking about shutting anything down. We're talking about common sense type of public health measures that we've been talking about all along."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consistently says that the best defense against the new coronavirus is washing your hands, social distancing and wearing face coverings.
On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis removed all remaining restrictions on bars and restaurants because the coronavirus pandemic has eased.
DeSantis' order also bars local governments from enforcing mask mandates or social distancing violations with fines, and from ordering businesses to close or operate at less than half-capacity, unless local leaders can justify the closure for economic or health reasons.
DeSantis acknowledged that South Florida could take more time to open at a Phase 3. Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties - the hardest hit with COVID-19 infections - have been slower to reopen than other parts of the state, keeping certain businesses closed and tighter restrictions intact.
Still, South Florida's bars were packed with people over the weekend. Hardly anyone wore masks or kept a cautious distance from one another. It looked like a scene from more than seven months ago, before the shut downs and before wearing masks became the norm.