The restrictions made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic will be slightly relaxed on Monday, with the opening of restaurant outdoor seating areas and 25 percent capacity of indoor seating areas and retail space.
It does not mean the emergency is over — in fact, we’re far from that.
“Residents have been doing the right things to get us here,” Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez said during a press conference of the Executive Policy Group Friday. “We can’t let our guard down if we want to keep moving forward.”
Osceola County will follow the guidelines of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Phase I introductory plan for re-opening the state, its facilities, businesses and economy. There will be no added local restrictions, but the county will be monitoring case data and is open to making appropriate modifications if necessary.
Many preventative measures should still be practiced: those aged 65 and over should still avoid close contact with those outside their homes, no gatherings of 10 or more people, visits to nursing home-type facilities are still prohibited, and the county’s declaration of wearing face coverings in public or when social distancing isn’t practical is still in effect. The county’s Back to Work task force will continue to meet to provide ideas how to further open up the business community safely, and government entities are studying when to open to 25 percent capacity. St. Cloud Mayor Nathan Blackwell said some city permitting and engineering offices may open to the public May 11 (a week from Monday).
Bars, gyms and professional services like nail salons and barber shops remain closed, and schools will continue distance learning through the end of the school year; the last day of school is May 28. County and city park space remains open, but equipment like children’s playgrounds and benches are still off limits.
COVID-19 testing will increase in Osceola County. Janer said the county is working with the Department of Health on opening more local testing sites in places like Buenaventura Lakes, Poinciana and Intercession City. The county is also working with Wal-Mart to host mobile testing sites; more details will be available on that next week.
After Monday, the county-run testing site at St. Cloud High School will move to Bellalago Academy (3651 Pleasant Hill Road) from Tuesday through Thursday, and to the Community Hope Center (2198 Four Winds Blvd.) May 12-14. Increased testing is what will move Osceola County on to Phase II.
Hospitals have an adequate supply of protective equipment, to the point that Osceola County Emergency Operations Director Bill Litton said that Orange Regional Medical Center, St. Cloud Regional Medical Center and Orlando Health’s ER facility did not need extra product beyond what they can acquire from their normal vendors.
Litton said over 6,500 N95 masks, 2,500 units of hand sanitizer, 7,700 face shields and 116,000 pairs of gloves have been distributed.
With everything that’s being done, Litton, who recommended people stay at home before the county declared, said common sense should rule the day as residents move between home and allowed businesses.
“If there’s not a need to be at, it’s still a good idea to be home, especially our at-risk population,” he said.