ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Bar owners in Downtown Orlando Wednesday spent the day loading up on beer and green St. Patrick’s Day beads for what they hope will be a better holiday than last year.
Bars in Central Florida were ordered to close on St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had already bought all of our products, scheduled all of our staff and it was a big let down,” Owner of Embassy Irish Bar Roger Wall said. “You are hoping to pay a couple of months rent on what you make today and that didn’t happen last year so hopefully it will happen this year.”
News 6 caught up with Wall as he was picking up PPE delivered to his business by the City of Orlando’s Downtown Development District, hoping to keep the crowds safe.
“I suppose I’m anxious. It is a busy day today. You want to get everything right and not make any mistakes,” he said.
Bar owners are hoping to not be called out by the Orange County Strike Teams who will be out on Wednesday night. The strike teams will not be able to fine businesses anymore as ordered by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The latest move by Gov. DeSantis has confused some bar owners.
“It’s still confusing they can’t fine us now apparently,” Wall said. “But you still don’t want to run afoul with this strike force. We want to do the right thing and we will be doing it today as best as humanly possible.”
Across the street at Wall Street Plaza, all the bars will be open, but not relenting on safety protocols according to General Manager Patrick Griffin.
“I think there is a fine line there,” Griffin said. “Inherently, we want to be safe and I think the mayor needed some extra encouragement to get people in line and the Governor looks at it a different way. So restaurants and bars got stuck in the middle. We have to self-police and get our staff online and control what we need to control.”
The fine line is hoping to bank on the biggest holiday while staying safe.
Deputy Director of Planning Environment and Development Services in Orange County Tim Boldig oversees the strike teams.
Hey says they will be out on St. Patrick’s Day into the night.
“We are almost at that finish line, now is not the time to let the foot off the gas and coast the rest of the way,” Boldig said.