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Gym owners anxious to reopen even in face of concerns

Restaurants can also increase capacity from 25% to 50%

ORLANDO – For gym owner Damien Priester at House of Sweat Orlando, no doubt things have been tough the past few weeks while his place was shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I’m married, I have two kids and it was a strain and it was rough trying to get through and stay motivated,” he said.

Now, he’s like many gym owners all across Florida in that he’s allowed to reopen first thing Monday morning. He’s getting ready.

It’s the newest expansion to Phase 1 in Florida, with Gov. Ron DeSantis saying gyms may open with up to 50% capacity and as long as they self sanitize.

“We’re going to definitely keep the 6-feet distance,” Preister said. “Spray and wipe everything down before and after.”

Meantime, also new in Phase 1 come on Monday is that restaurants can operate at a 50% capacity, instead of 25%. It’s good news for owner Clover Brown at Oley’s kitchen in Orlando. She said now she’s able to staff her employees back fully and she hopes to make more money.

“During the pandemic, things went way down,” she said. “We were at a deficit.”

But despite the increased capacity, Brown told me she’s a bit uneasy still with too many customers dining in.

“We don’t want to create a sense of false security,” she said. “We still have to practice safe distancing and wear our gloves and masks.”

Brown said for now, she’s doing mostly take out, but folks can sit inside briefly.


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