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COVID-19 concerns and precautions change up Cinco de Mayo celebrations

Some restaurants still closed, others see smaller crowds due to limited capacity inside

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The celebration of Cinco de Mayo has a very different feel this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some popular Central Florida restaurants and bars people would normally frequent for the festivities are still closed.

If you were hoping to celebrate Cinco de Mayo down at the Wall Street Cantina in downtown Orlando, you are out of luck this year.

According to the Wall Street Plaza website, all the Wall Street restaurants and bars are closed until further notice.

“It sucks,” said Craig Higginbotham, who works downtown and walked by the empty entertainment district this afternoon. “Hopeful everything comes back to normal soon.”

One of the few places you could get your Taco Tuesday and Cinco de Mayo fix downtown was Tin and Taco on Washington Street.

The small taco shop has relied on takeout business to keep it afloat during the 30-day safer-at-home order.

It had a line out the door during the lunch rush today, but workers say this year's Cinco de Mayo is nothing like years past.

"We're trying to keep our distance and keep everyone in line so they're not touching anything," said Tin and Taco General Manager Wes Ballard. "We're keeping everything sanitized, we're wearing masks inside -.that way we can stay open and keep everyone safe inside."

Rocco's Tacos down on Sand Lake Road is known for their Cinco De Mayo celebrations - and just reopened on Monday.

Owner Rocco Mangel was happy to point out all the changes he's made to try to keep guests and staff protected from any possible exposure to the coronavirus.

“Health-wise, we want to be above and beyond,” said Mangel. “We have 25% capacity inside, 6-foot distance outside, face masks, hand sanitizer, paper menus.”

Mangel says they've even increased security to enforce social distancing.

“We have police officers, security, we actually have a COVID security guard - and all he does is walk around and say ‘hey if you’re not together - stay 6 feet apart’,” said Mangel.

Guests who visited also noticed stickers on the floor in the front bar of where groups of people could stand while waiting for takeout - or for a table to open up. There were also dozens of tables and chairs and a tent set up around Rocco's Tacos adjacent parking lot. And those who chose to spend their Cinco celebration say they appreciated all the extra measures at the restaurant.

“All of the staff members were wearing masks, and some people are wearing gloves,” said Dawn Burnett, who came to celebrate with friends at the lakefront eatery. “They sterilized the tables before we sat down. And when I sat down, I was impressed - they even offered me hand sanitizer.”