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Business owners on Orange County task force help create plan to get Central Florida back to work

Task force sub-groups create mandates for businesses to operate safely

ORLANDO, Fla. – Protect lives while protecting livelihoods is the delicate balance the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force is working with, meeting for the second time Tuesday but this time breaking down into four sub-groups to determine what needs to be done and how soon the county could open for business.

The first working group, Guidelines for Reopening Business, met where collectively they looked at guidelines in other states that have already begun reopening and came up with mandates for different industries. The task force is co-chaired by J Henry’s Barber Shop owner John Henry and Unicorp National Development President Chuck Whittall.

Those guidelines are split up between different industries, including beauty salons, childcare, entertainment, fitness, bars, gas stations, hotels and theme parks.

They are broken down by recommendations and mandates with what a Phase 1 or Phase 2 approach would look like.

For example, a mandate for the hospitality industry would be placing hand sanitizers at every table and all employees required to wear face masks. With Phase 1 limiting the restaurant and bar capacity to 50% and Phase 2 limiting capacity at 75%.

“For most business, this is going to require face masks, hand sanitizer, and thermometers for temperature checks and things like that. We will go through the different industries so people are going to have to prepare for that,” Whitall said.

Reopening needs to come with consistency, Whittall said, allowing consumers to feel confident and safe no matter what business they walk into.

“The right word was ‘consistency’ and we want to create guidelines for those businesses that are consistent,” Whittall said. “So you if you walk in one restaurant, you get the same type of care at another.”

Theme parks reopening was also discussed in the sub-group Tuesday, with guidelines for theme parks to have tape marking of 6 feet apart in rides and attraction queues. The mandates recommended for theme parks include employees wearing face masks, touch-less hand sanitizer at each ticket entry and ride attraction entry and exit as well as temperature checks for staff prior to their shift, among other things.

As for business owners who are on the task force, they are ready to re-open.

“We absolutely need a date, you can’t plan for something you don’t know,” task force member and owner of Mosaic Hair Salon Mike Van Den Abbeel said. “I appreciate the slow opening. That totally makes sense, I feel like that would be an ideal way to go but let’s get it going."

Three other tasks force subgroups include business readiness, compliance and consumer confidence along with how to welcome tourists back to the area.

Orange County medical experts from AdventHealth and Orlando Health support a slow reopening.

“It’s my opinion that we should not open everything at once, not because of the situation right now but how we are going to manage and sustain if we see a number of cases?” Dr. Mark Pino said.

Florida’s stay-at-home order expires Thursday. Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will announce his plans for reopening the state on Wednesday.

View a list of corporate guidelines the task force has come up with so far below or click here on mobile.


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