West Orange reopens as phase one begins

Hospitals, restaurants and retailers are easing into reopening under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ phased approach.

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  • | 1:15 p.m. May 6, 2020
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings met with salon owners Saturday, May 2, to discuss their eventual reopening.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings met with salon owners Saturday, May 2, to discuss their eventual reopening.
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Following the implementation of phase one of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to reopen the state, West Orange-area businesses are again adapting to a new set of guidelines.



Just a few days prior to DeSantis’ April 28 unveiling of his reopening plan, he met with officials at Orlando Health’s Orlando Regional Medical Center to discuss the possibility of Central Florida having passed its coronavirus peak. CEO David Strong said his team believes the peak occurred the first week of April.

“We remain vigilant and prepared,” added R. Erick Hawkins, senior vice president of strategic management at Orlando Health. “If the data starts to trend in a different direction than it has the last couple of weeks (we’re ready), but we believe … we’re on a downward slope now. We remain hopeful that we are, in fact, on the downside of the curve.”

Hawkins added that health care providers will be dealing with the virus until a vaccine is created. As Florida begins reopening and people slowly begin moving around more, the hospital anticipates and is prepared for a smaller peak of in-house COVID-19 patients.

AdventHealth unveiled new changes and services to safeguard patients, visitors and team members as the state health care system begins to reopen many of its services.

This includes testing all AdventHealth team members — as well as patients being admitted, in observation or undergoing a procedure — for COVID-19; allowing each patient one visitor per day and providing temperature checks and masks to those visitors; enhanced sterilization and disinfection processes; and expanded telehealth services.

“The core tenant of our reopening philosophy has been the safety of our community, the safety of our patients and the safety of our staff and physicians,” said Dr. Neil Finkler, chief medical officer of acute care services at AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division.

Orlando Health is implementing similar procedures and will test all patients scheduled to undergo medical procedures, as well as women going into labor at its hospitals, for COVID-19. Masking and social distancing continue, and everyone who enters an Orlando Health hospital will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.



The first phase of DeSantis’ phased reopening plan allows retail stores, restaurants, museums and libraries to operate at 25% capacity while continuing to encourage social distancing. State parks and many shopping malls also are reopening. 

However, there still are many businesses that are not included. Bars, nightclubs, gyms and personal services such as hairdressing remain closed. Schools will continue distance learning for the remainder of the academic year, and senior-living facilities will continue adhering to a no-visitor policy.

Businesses that are allowed to reopen must continue to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which advocate for groups of 10 or fewer and 6 feet of space between parties.  Businesses that exceed 25% capacities will be fined up to $500, and law-enforcement agencies could charge violators with a second-degree misdemeanor.

The Breakfast Club of Ocoee was among restaurants that reopened for dine-in May 4.

“We’ve kept 7 feet distance between each table, and all tables only have hand sanitizer on them,” restaurant officials said. “All the condiments that we’re using are only in disposable containers, and we’re also only giving out paper menus. We’re maintaining the highest level of sanitary measures to make sure our staff and all our customers are safe to dine in.”

Little Greek in Winter Garden Village has placed vinyl dividers between each table — which are 6 feet apart. 

Hagan O’Reilly’s in Winter Garden also is open at 25% capacity inside and social distancing outside. 

“We have arranged both areas to comply with state guidelines for reopening,” said Joe Amos, Hagan O’Reilly’s general manager. “We appreciate all the support we have gotten through this tough time.”

West Orange Creamery and Soda Fountain also reopened for dine-in May 4, but not without some hesitation. Indoor seating is limited to 10 guests at max, and neither tasters nor board games will be available.

“I’m still really hesitant to open the doors and not be able to manage it accordingly, so we’re just going to open really slow,” owner Jo Eveland said. “We’ll take it on a one-to-one basis. … We’re going to work on measuring all of our tables, we’re going to go ahead and disinfect everything … and we’ll be definitely open with our outdoor seating and chairs.”



Personal services — such as hair salons, barber shops and nail spas — could be among the next wave of businesses to reopen down the road.

During a roundtable with salon owners Saturday, May 2, at Oh Sooo Jazzy Hair Salon in MetroWest, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings heard their concerns. DeSantis promised he would begin working toward reopening Florida salons and barber shops as soon as possible.

The roundtable also included Dr. George Ralls, chief quality officer of Orlando Health’s Orlando Regional Medical Center; and Dr. Raul Pino, Florida Department of Health in Orange County health officer.

Oh Sooo Jazzy owner Nadine Tarpley said many clients have called asking when she would reopen. 

“We’ve taken every measure even before this happened to make sure everyone’s safe,” Tarpley said. “We’re professional enough to protect ourselves and our clients, we just want the opportunity … to help ourselves.”


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