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’79 days is a long time:’ Bars, bowling alleys able to open as Phase 2 begins

Orlando bars reopen, but have to close early due to curfew

ORLANDO, Fla. – After 79 days, the owner of Casey’s on Central said he is finally able to reopen his bar as part of Florida’s Phase 2 reopening plan.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing Phase two on Wednesday allowing bars and pubs to reopen at 50% capacity. Phase two also allows for the reopening of entertainment venues like movie theaters and bowling centers.

"79 days is a long time," said Jeff Ekas, owner of Casey's on Central. "There is a lot of people that are ready to get out and get back to work."

Before reopening before noon Friday, masked employees at Casey’s got their temperature checked.

Ekas also walked around with measuring tape to make sure the tables were six feet apart. Phase two allows bars to be at 50% capacity on the inside and 100% capacity on the outside. During happy hour on Friday, the bouncer clicked how many people came in and out.

"We are treating this weekend almost like a soft opening," Ekas said. "Learn a lot to see how things are going, see if there is anything that needs to change."

Across the county, at Boardwalk Bowl, couple Fernie Velez and Lindsey Marshall went out to bowl on a Friday afternoon. One of the first times they have left the house to do something fun.

"We are kind of dipping our toes in, seeing how everything is," Marshall said.

Inside extra employees hired on just for cleaning were seeing sanitizing all high touch areas from the arcade games to the inside of bowling balls. Managers have also separated groups to every other lane to keep with the 50% capacity for entertainment venues.

“The modifications have been just a little bit different but in the end, everyone is happy to be back at work and happy to be bowling,” said Kendra Gaines with Aloma Bowling Centers. “We are doing our very best to keep everyone safe and hope everyone comes to have fun with us.”

Back in downtown Orlando, many bars purposely opened up early knowing they will have to close early as well in order to adhere to the 8 p.m. curfew still in effect for the City of Orlando.

“After 7 p.m. last call, we will have to play it by ear moving forward into Monday and next week. If the curfew is still in effect we will have to make a decision as to what we are going to do,” Ekas said. “Two steps forward, one step back but at this point, we are happy to be able to open our doors.”


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