Central Florida restaurants welcome customers inside for first time in weeks due to coronavirus

College Park Cafe reopened Monday with new safety precautions in place

Central Florida restaurants welcome customers inside for first time in weeks due to coronavirus
Central Florida restaurants welcome customers inside for first time in weeks due to coronavirus

ORLANDO, Fla. – Residents across Central Florida are able to dine at restaurants for the first time as phase one of Florida's reopening went into effect on Monday.

At College Park Cafe, workers arrived before sunrise to ensure enhanced safety measures were in place as they welcomed diners for the first time in weeks.

"We've had a really rough time here for the last couple of weeks," owner Jose Pelegrino said. "Luckily, we've had a really good community here in College Park that has helped us out through these horrible times."

As part of the phase one plan from Gov. Ron DeSantis, restaurants are allowed to offer inside dining at 25% capacity. Pelegrino said that means only 16 people are allowed to dine-in at his restaurant at any given time.

[MORE COVERAGE: Everything you need to know about phase one of reopening Florida]

Early Monday, there was a slow but steady trickle of customers at the cafe off Edgewater Drive. The diners were spaced out at tables inside that were at least six feet apart.

“It helps them. I mean, they’re hurting,” Russell Cohen said. “I just love them. They’ve become friends of mine because they’re so good to their customers.”

Pelegrino said other safety measures have been put in place. All workers wear masks, hand sanitizers are placed on all tables and they’ve increased cleaning and now provide disposable menus.

"Our goal is to make as much disposable as we can to have the least amount of contact with different things as possible," he said.

No firm timeline has been set for when businesses will be allowed to enter phase two of Florida’s reopening plan.

Pelegrino said he hopes the restrictions will be eased in the coming weeks, as long as it's safe enough to do so.

“We’re just hoping that we can service enough people and make sure that everyone is safe enough to where they want to continue to do business,” he said.

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