Orange County businesses owners encouraged to require masks indoors

Mayor issued local emergency order as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Reaction to the recommendation that everyone mask up again indoors--regardless of vaccination status -- was mixed Wednesday among Orange County business owners.

“Starting tomorrow if you come to Tin and Taco in College Park, you will be wearing a mask or you will not get service,” said Derrius Boston, general manager at Tin and Taco in College Park.

During a news conference Wednesday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings declared a local emergency in Orange County and said all county employees will be required to get vaccinated by Sept. 30.

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The mayor also urged residents to wear a mask indoors whether vaccinated or not and is asking local businesses to follow CDC guidelines.

“I want — not just Disney and Universal — but I want all of our businesses to hear our appeal that if we all take these actions together, then we can significantly slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus within our community and bring those numbers down, reduce the hospitalizations and allow them to stay open,” Demings said.

“We don’t know if they’re vaccinated or not or if they have it or not and a lot of them come in with no masks, so I think it’s a good thing,” said Boston.

However, many said requiring masks for customers has been quite confusing lately.

[RELATED: Disney World guests will have to wear masks again]

“A couple months on and then off and on and off so as a business owner what do we follow?” said Sheetal Thakur, the owner of El Vic’s Kitchen in College Park.

She told News 6 customer safety and employee is her top priority.

She also said she fears mask mandates or vaccine proof could hurt her bottom line, especially owning a small business that was affected big time during the pandemic.

“Should we put up a sign and would we lose business if we put up a sign? And how would it affect the business for a small business ?” Thakur said.

Demings is also pleading that businesses mandate their employees get vaccinated.

Orange County is reporting nearly 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per day and hospitals are reporting COVID-19 patient numbers near the peak they previously saw in January.

The mayor did not issue a mask mandate, which would be difficult under a new Florida law that restricts all local governments from doing so, and the governor could still choose to invalidate this one.

Guests at Disney World will have to wear masks again regardless of vaccination status starting July 30.

About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.