ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health said Universal Orlando invited the agency to examine the steps it has taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus before it reopened CityWalk on Thursday.
“They thought out the process,” said Dr. Raul Pino, FDOH Health Officer for Orange County.
Pino said he toured the CityWalk attraction, which is full of retail stores and restaurants, on Wednesday.
He called what he saw a learning experience.
"We came to realize the large number of surfaces that people will come in touch with -- the handrails especially. The winding lines that we have for the rides," he said.
Pino said Universal told him they will be limiting restaurants to 25 percent capacity, and they will have hand sanitizing stations throughout the area.
He said the attraction will also have posted signs reminding guests of the new rules the park announced on Tuesday, which include mandated face masks and social distancing.
He said he's hopeful this could help lay the groundwork for a new theme cleanliness standard.
"The question is: is it going to be enough?" he said. "It all depends on the volume and how people behave."
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he's facing a similar question.
"Can we do it safely? That's the guiding principle for me," he said.
Demings said several of the smaller amusement and theme parks contacted him on Wednesday asking him if they could reopen.
He said they've proposed new cleaning protocols and CDC standards.
He said it's a decision that would have to be answered by the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, which was established in the wake of COVID-19.
"It can't just be an emotional argument based on the economics of the conversation," he said. "It has to be balanced with the healthcare data as well."
Demings said he was also asked about when Phase Two of the reopening may begin.
According to the White House guidelines, Phase Two would see gyms, movie theaters and bars begin to reopen.
Demings said he’s waiting for guidance from Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida.