Coronavirus causes local cancellations, closures

West Orange-area cities, theme parks and event organizers have been forced to adjust out of concern for public health and safety.

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  • | 4:30 p.m. March 18, 2020
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Within the last week, much of the world has come to a standstill as the coronavirus pandemic increasingly becomes a concern.

In West Orange County, many municipalities and organizations decided to cancel or postpone events and meetings out of an abundance of caution regarding COVID-19. 

The Windermere Police Department Foundation’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, the Garden Theatre’s Encore gala, Windermere’s Run Among the Lakes and the West Orange Chamber of Commerce’s Best Fest are among local events that have been postponed or rescheduled.

Then, in an unprecedented move, Central Florida’s theme parks announced temporary closures in response to coronavirus fears. Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort shut their theme parks down Monday, March 16, and are expected to remain closed through the end of March. SeaWorld Orlando also closed down March 16, but the company has not yet given an anticipated reopening date.


The theme park closures affect tens of thousands of employees. Disney’s theme park employees make up the largest workforce in Orlando, and the company will continue to pay them. Universal said it will pay its hourly employees for their scheduled work through the end of the month.

“There’s a lot in question as far as if this will be a prolonged situation, and it affects not only the employees but the company and the economy at large,” said a Universal Orlando employee, who spoke under condition of anonymity. “I think it’s a necessary and smart precaution to make the decision to close it based on what we’ve seen happening around the world. It also shines a light on how serious this is, because theme parks don’t close for most situations.”

Going forward, most municipalities and government agencies continue to make efforts to fellow CDC guidelines and help prevent the spread of the virus. The CDC is recommending that, for the next eight weeks, organizers nationwide cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more.

The city of Ocoee has canceled its Easter Eggstravaganza. Its Spring Fling and Ocoee Lakeshore Center Grand Reopening events have been postponed. 

Winter Garden’s recreation programs and athletic leagues are suspended. The Bloom & Grow Garden Society’s Spring Fever in the Garden, SoBo Gallery’s annual fundraising gala and Evening at the Pops all have been postponed.

In Oakland, the Celebration Among the Oaks, Jazz in the Town Center and HAPCO Wine and Dine all have been canceled.

The town of Windermere’s administrative office has adjusted hours from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for the next two weeks. 

“We will continue to set a path by example and adjustments can be made as quickly as needed,” Windermere Mayor Jim O’Brien wrote on Facebook.


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