ORLANDO, Fla. – Now that Florida's theme parks are beginning to reopen, Niya Dupree and her former college roommates, all from New York, wanted to celebrate their graduation together in Orlando.
Universal Studios opened last week and SeaWorld opens tomorrow.
Dupree, Aaliyah Jackson and a third friend landed Wednesday in Orlando.
“They said if you don’t quarantine the right way, you can get a $500 fine or 60 days in jail,” Dupree said.
When the group walked off the plane at Orlando International Airport, the National Guard handed them contact information forms. They had to fill out the forms and sign them, acknowledging they'd been made aware of the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine still in effect.
“Which is weird so it’s like what do they expect us to do? You want us to self-quarantine but you’re opening at theme parks,” Jackson asked. “It’s really confusing and it’s frustrating at the same time. We have no choice but to self-quarantine but then again we came out here to have a vacation and enjoy ourselves but then again we don’t want to get fined or go to jail.”
On March 24, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-82 requiring all travelers arriving in Florida from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Shortly after, Louisiana was added to that list.
Checkpoints were set up on Interstate 10 in the Florida Panhandle and on Interstate 95 at the Georgia border where drivers from the NY tri-state area were required to complete the same contact information forms as airline passengers.
Since then, nearly 60,000 traveler information forms have been collected on the highway, and more than 66,000 have been collected at Florida’s airports, according to the governor’s office.
The I-10 checkpoint has been removed but the one on I-95 remains.
Last Wednesday, DeSantis said he would look at lifting the executive order.
“Most of it has been airplane travel into the State of Florida, some (drivers) on I-95 and some on I-10,” DeSantis said. “I would say just doing that has made a big difference, because that deterred some people for coming. There were people they followed up with, they lied, they found them on the beach, and they went back to New York, it did happen. It was effective.”
Dr. Raul Pino, the director of the Florida Health Department in Orange County, where most of the theme parks are located, said requiring visitors to quarantine while theme parks and attractions are open is not sustainable.
“That’s an interesting problem and that’s probably going to change,” Pino said. “My personal professional view, at this point it may not make much sense. We are opening the parks that we were before at levels that we were before, so I think we’re aiming to attract people to come.”