Restaurants, retail should prepare to open Monday, Orange County leaders say

Orange County plans to begin reopening on Monday, starting with restaurants and retail stores.

“Those entities would be able to reopen on Monday, as long as they do so in compliance with the governor’s order,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

The order requires businesses to operate at 25 percent capacity, while practicing social distancing. Despite the order, it is still unknown what health and sanitation rules businesses will have to follow when they do open. The county’s reopening task force hopes to have those guidelines by Friday.

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“We will have to digest their recommendations and then do something that’s sensible for our residents here in Orange County,” said Demings.

People we spoke to welcomed the news.

“I know a lot of people are hurting and eager to get back to work,” said Matt Batchelor, Orange County resident.

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“I know that everybody needs money right now,” said Stephanie Adams, Orange County resident.

The stay-home order also expiring Monday, allowing gatherings of up to 10 people.

“People need their sanity,” said Adams.

“I live alone, so it’s getting a little insanity but trying to stay sane,” said Batchelor.

“I have a 7 and a 10 year old and just being cooped up inside, not seeing their friends, not seeing their teachers is very hard,” said Adams.

The first phase of reopening is also the first sign of returning to some semblance of life as we once knew it.

“It is a little glimmer of hope,” said Batchelor, “When you don’t have a light at the end of the tunnel, you kind of feel lost and have no direction, so if we can start to give people a little bit of hope, I think it’s gonna really turn people’s moods in the right direction.”

The reopening involves strict monitoring of COVID-19, restrictions could be further lifted or reinstated, depending on new cases.

Orange County’s nightly curfew remains in place indefinitely.