Greetings from Orlando! This time of year is usually very busy, with many kids on Spring Break and therefore lots of families visiting The City Beautiful.
Not this year, though. Coronavirus took care of that.
There are, of course, lots of closures, although some places inexplicably (dangerously?) remain open. Here’s the low down on what’s happening in Central Florida.
The lay of the land
Walt Disney World’s property is mainly in Orange County, with a small part of it jutting out into Osceola County. With a small handful of exceptions, most other “Orlando area” theme parks and tourist areas (Universal, SeaWorld, Gatorland, I-Drive, etc.) are in Orange County.
I’m just going to focus on Orange County since that’s where the vast majority of “touristy” places are.
Directives from the County:
- As of March 13, Orange County Government has declared a Local State of Emergency, which allows for normal processes to be temporarily suspended for better and more efficient emergency management.
- Orange County and all of its municipalities are under Curfew, effective March 20, 2020 from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. (Exemptions for the curfew include essential workers like medical, government and first responders, as well as residents reporting for regular work)
- Effective 11pm of Thursday, March 26, Orange County will be under a 2-week “stay at home” mandate (Note: Osceola County is enacting the same thing).
The following is for the State of Florida:
- As of March 9, the State of Florida has declared a state of emergency, allowing nurses and doctors from other states to work in Florida and pharmacists to issue emergency 30-day prescriptions. The order also allows officials to activate the Florida National Guard, purchase medical supplies more swiftly, and establish field hospitals.
- March 17, 2020 – The governor ordered bars and nightclubs in Florida to close for 30 days and directed restaurants to operate at 50% of their maximum capacity to allow for social distancing.
- March 20, 2020 – The governor signed an executive order to close the beaches in Broward and Palm Beach County, but not the rest of Florida’s beaches (an FL lawyer is currently suing him for not closing all beaches since social distancing is NOT happening by Spring Breakers and other beach visitors).
- March 22, 2020 – All Florida state parks are closed
- March 23, 2020 – the Governor orders a 14-day quarantine for travelers flying in from NY, NJ and CT
- March 25, 2020 – The Governor expands his March 23 order to anyone who who flown from NY, NJ & Ct in the past 3 weeks must self-quarantine for the next 3 weeks AND tell every person they’ve been in contact with that they may have been exposed to the virus
Things to do
There doesn’t seem to be a set “official” list of what’s open (or closed). As a reference, the Orlando Sentinel has been posting an ongoing list of what’s open, if places write in and let them know. So as of late evening of Monday, March 23rd:
- America’s Escape Game (8723 International Drive, Orlando)
- Chocolate Kingdom Factory Adventure Tour (9901 Hawaiian Court, Orlando)
- Escapology (11951 International Drive, Orlando)
- Leu Gardens (1920 N. Forest Ave., Orlando)
- Mead Botanical Gardens (1300 S. Denning Drive, Winter Park)
- Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf — Locations vary
- Wild Florida Drive-Thru Safari (3301 Lake Cypress Road, Kenansville)
Fun Spot had been open but finally closed (hopefully because of all the shade people were giving them for the dangers of staying open at a time like this), effective March 23rd.
Places to eat
All restaurants and bars are only available for delivery or pick up. The Sentinel also posted a list on Friday, March 20, with restaurants that are open for business with a drive-thru, pick up or delivery options. They’ve been updating the list regularly. Click here to see it.
You have to drive about 45 to 60 minutes to get there from Orlando, but the Ruskin Family Drive-In, in Hillsborough County (take I-4, towards Tampa) is still up and running, and showing current releases! Heads up that they’re cash only; no credit cards or checks allowed.
The Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre, which is located in Lakeland, FL, shows classic films.
So yeah…not a whole lot open for tourists. Even some “essential” stores in areas that cater to tourists are closed for the time being, simply because there isn’t enough business to justify keeping them open. So if you are in Central FL, before you go anywhere, call first. What is open today may not be open tomorrow.
So much is closed, but Florida is still open
As of this writing, as much as MANY people would like the state of Florida to have a “shelter in place” order to help slow the curve (our state alone already has over 1,500 active cases of coronavirus and that number is currently growing by about 200+ cases every day), the governor won’t do it. #DeSantisBetrayedFlorida (some NSFW language is in that link to Twitter. And deservedly so.)
Do me a favor. Do yourself a favor. DON’T COME TO FLORIDA. We’re on the border of being another hotspot, and there’s hardly anything to do anyway. So just don’t come.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary