Protesters Gather in Orlando Demanding State Leaders to Reopen Florida's Economy


Dozens of protesters gathered in downtown Orlando Friday afternoon to call on state and local authorities to reopen Florida's economy.

NBC 6 affiliate WESH-2 reported that the protest took place hours ahead of a coronavirus briefing that was scheduled to take place with Orange County officials.

According to WESH, some protesters appeared to be ignoring social distancing orders and were shouting "open up the state."

Later, during the briefing, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he thought the demonstration had been "much of a circus."

“Perhaps one person has the right to risk their own health and safety, but not the safety of others. It’s not fun and games. This is serious stuff,” Demings said.

“There are some people who don’t accept science as facts and I suspect that’s some of who's outside,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said of the protest.

Florida's unemployment rate shot up to 4.3% in March, as coronavirus-induced closures of Florida's theme parks, hotels and large numbers of businesses caused the highest levels of joblessness in almost two years.

It was a dramatic increase from the state's previous month's unemployment rate of 2.8%. Florida's workforce shrank by 120,000 workers from February to March, labor officials said.

At a press conference Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said multiple state departments were working on acquiring the personnel and resources necessary to handle the influx of unemployment claims.

As far as reopening the state's economy, DeSantis has faced criticism for suggesting that schools could soon reopen.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump detailed a three-phase plan states could follow to move away from a "blanket shutdown" and eventually begin to reopen. The plan includes making sure states meet certain criteria before they begin to allow certain facilities to slowly resume operations.

The new guidelines are aimed at easing restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while holding the line in harder-hit locations. They make clear that the return to normalcy will be a far longer process than Trump initially envisioned.

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