ORLANDO, Fla. — Summer camps and little leagues are allowed to be back in session for kids across Florida.

What You Need To Know

  • DeSantis says parents, communities should continue to follow CDC guidelines

  • Decision made based on data on how children are affected by COVID-19 in Florida

  • Studies still being done on whether children are carriers

Gov. DeSantis announced that restrictions on juvenile activities and camps were immediately lifted Thursday during a news conference in Jacksonville.

No hard and fast restrictions would be imposed to allow those activities to happen, the governor said, though the Florida Dept. of Health would post some best practices, and doctors said communities should continue to follow all CDC guidelines.

"At the end of the day, we trust parents to be able to make decisions in conjunction with physicians and community leaders and coaches to be able to do these activities in a way that is safe," DeSantis said. 

DeSantis said the decision was made based on observations and data on how children in Florida are affected by the virus.

Generally the data shows children are less likely to get COVID-19, or at least get seriously sick from it. The CDC is investigating new cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which appears to be related. Some cases of the condition in children have been reported in Florida in recent weeks.

Studies are still looking into whether children can transmit the virus to adults.

Tampa, St. Petersburg Running Much Smaller Versions of Summer Camp Programs

Both the City of Tampa and the City of St. Petersburg will have summer camp programs available in the coming weeks, but both programs will be much smaller than in years past.

In Tampa, the program starts June 1 with a two-week summer camp kickoff.

"We’re going to open up at eight sites, and they’re gym sites like you see here and that way we can have limited numbers but but still have plenty of social distancing in a gym," said John Allen with Tampa Parks and Recreation.

To keep the numbers smaller, parents will be asked to apply for the summer camp program online. Then, children will be selected for the program by lottery.

St. Petersburg is moving forward with camp programs in a similar manner. Both cities decided before the governor's announcement to go ahead with their camps.

"We heard too many stories of families that were desperate and didn’t know how they were going to be able to get back to work and how they were going to be able to restart," said St. Petersburg Leisure Services Administrator Mike Jefferis.

As for Bay area county summer camps, Hillsborough County had previously announced that its summer camp programs would be canceled this year, and there's no word yet on if that decision will be reversed.

Pinellas County, which subcontracts its summer camp programs, provided the following statement when we reached out to them for this story:

"At this time, we don’t have a definite answer from the vendor if those summer camps will be canceled this year due to COVID-19."

Summer camp officials we spoke to in every locality emphasized that the situation is very fluid at this time, and just how the coronavirus acts and reacts during the summer will determine if camps expand or are contracted.

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