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Pence in Florida as coronavirus lockdowns relax, economy reopens

Audrey Conklin

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Vice President Mike Pence visited Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Orlando on Wednesday to discuss the state's reopening progress as coronavirus restrictions ease across the country.

Pence was scheduled to talk to the governor and drop off protective equipment at a nursing home while tourism, the state's biggest industry, continued taking steps toward reopening.

FLORIDA KEYS WILL REOPEN TO VISITORS JUNE 1

Flordia's stay-at-home orders began on April 3, and on April 17, DeSantis approved the reopening of select state beaches and parks with guidelines in place. Restaurants reopened soon after with social distancing rules, and gatherings have been limited to a maximum of 50 people.

Pence and DeSantis visited a burger restaurant called Beth's Burger Bar that has been operating at 50-percent capacity.

"America is coming back, better than ever!" the vice president wrote in a Wednesday tweet.

He added in a second tweet: "Florida is leading the way to Open Up America Again! Businesses across the state are safely reopening their doors, and we were thrilled to have had lunch at a great small business, [Beth's Burger Bar.]"

Orlando, home to Florida's most popular attractions including Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios, was hit hard by the economic standstill caused COVID-19 pandemic. Some select areas of theme parks like Disney Springs and Universal's City Walk have started partial reopenings, and SeaWorld began testing rides with customers wearing masks this week.

“SeaWorld’s team of experts is currently making necessary preparations to reopen and operate our parks as soon as safely possible, including the testing of rides, new sanitation protocols and a number of other enhanced health and safety related measures," a SeaWorld spokesperson told FOX Business.

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Critics of the Trump administration called the vice president's visit “too little too late."

“It’s not enough to show up for a photo op two months later," said Terrie Rizzo, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party in an online news conference with reporters on Tuesday.

Florida had about 47,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 2,000 deaths as of Wednesday. All 50 states have initiated at least limited reopenings as of Wednesday.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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