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The Villages

Villages restauranteurs vow caution despite DeSantis greenlighting 100% capacity

Gov. Ron DeSantis has greenlighted restaurants and bars to begin operating at 100 percent capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but three Villages restauranteurs said Friday that caution will remain the name of the game in their eateries that are scattered across Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.

DeSantis made the announcement in St. Petersburg as he touted Phase Three of his plan to reopen the state on the same day Florida reported 695,887 cumulative cases of COVID-19 and the local area added 13 new deaths for a total of 528. The governor also placed restrictions on local governments that might attempt to keep bars and eateries at reduced capacity or closed and prohibited cities and counties from collecting any outstanding fines connected with the pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday in St. Petersburg that restaurants and bars across the state can go to 100 percent capacity even though new cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported across the Sunshine State on a daily basis.

Not surprisingly, DeSantis’ announcement was met with guarded optimism by three local restauranteurs – all of whom have been praised for going above and beyond in enacting COVID-19 precautions. All three said they will continue to play it safe in their eateries for the foreseeable future, most likely until a vaccine for the deadly virus is released.

Allen Musikantow, owner/operator of the Cody’s Original Roadhouse restaurants in Lake Sumter Landing and Brownwood, said social distancing will continue in his eateries, as will temperature checks for employees and constant sanitizing of surfaces throughout the buildings.

“We’re going to be very cautious,” he said Friday, pointing out that his customers have placed their trust in him and his staff to protect them from the virus and he doesn’t take that responsibility lightly.

Musikantow said partitions that were installed in-between booths will stay in place and his employees all will continue to wear masks.

“That won’t change anytime soon,” he said. “That’s really part of the new norm.”

Gina Buell, who along with husband Mike owns the City Fire restaurants in Lake Sumter Landing and Brownwood, said they will be taking it slow with any changes to the current protocols in place because of COVID-19. She said her employees will continue to constantly sanitize all surfaces, tables and chairs throughout the eatery – a measure she quickly put in place back in March when the pandemic first broke out. She added that her staff will continue to have their temperatures taken, wear face coverings, frequently wash and sanitize their hands and maintain proper social distancing.

Buell said she will probably slightly loosen some of the restrictions for outdoor seating. But she said the strict measures that are in place inside the dining rooms will remain for quite some time, including social distance dancing that’s allowed at the Lake Sumter Landing eatery.

“We’re going to continue to be very cautious and protect our guests and our staff,” she said, adding that the 6-foot social distancing guideline also will stay intact.

Douglas Brown, of FMK Restaurant Group, said the eateries owned by well-known restauranteur Fred Karimipour – Bluefin Grill & Bar in Brownwood, The Chop House at Lake Sumter Landing, Belle Glade Country Club, Bonifay Country Club, Evans Prairie Country Club, Orange Blossom Hills Country Club and Scooples Ice Cream Parlor – also will continue to make the safety of customers and employees the top priority.

“We’re going to protect them to the best of our abilities,” he said.

Brown, who serves as area director for Bluefin, The Chop House and Scooples, said employees will continue to have health screenings that include temperature checks. He added that social distancing guidelines will stay in place and extensive sanitation measures will remain as part of the eateries’ normal operating procedures.

On Friday while making the announcement at The Birchwood hotel in St. Petersburg, DeSantis said he was well aware that the restaurant industry is difficult to succeed in, especially with the devastating effects from COVID-19 shutdowns on operators and their employees since March.

“We are saying in the state of Florida everybody has an opportunity and the right to work,” he said. “Every business has the right operate.”

Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, said Florida’s hospitality industry has been decimated by COVID-19.

“This has been a crisis like we have never seen before,” Dover said. “Businesses have closed, and more than 336,000 people have lost work in our industry. The effects on the local and state economy have been significant. We look forward to welcoming back our wonderful guests and to re-opening the Sunshine State.”

Floridians are hoping Phase Three doesn’t bring the staggering increase in COVID-19 cases that followed DeSantis’ Phase Two announcement in June. Since that time, the state has seen a staggering 1,084 percent rise in cases.

On June 3 when that announcement was made, Florida was reporting 58,764 cases, 2,566 deaths and 10,525 people hospitalized. On Friday, those numbers had ballooned to 695,887 cases, 14,083 deaths and 43,299 people hospitalized.

The breakdown by day of COVID-19 cases across the state, beginning the day after DeSantis’ Phase Two announcement, is as follows:

  • Thursday, June 4: 60,183, increase of 1,419;
  • Friday, June 5: 61,488, increase of 1,305;
  • Saturday, June 6: 62,758, increase of 1,270;
  • Sunday, June 7: 63,938, increase of 1,180;
  • Monday, June 8: 64,904, increase of 966;
  • Tuesday, June 9: 66,000, increase of 1,096;
  • Wednesday, June 10: 67,371, increase of 1,371;
  • Thursday, June 11: 69,069, increase of 1,698;
  • Friday June 12: 70,971, increase of 1,902;
  • Saturday June 13: 73,552, increase of 2,581;
  • Sunday June 14: 75,568, increase of 2,016;
  • Monday June 15: 77,327, increase of 1,759;
  • Tuesday June 16: 80,109, increase of 2,782;
  • Wednesday June 17: 82,719, increase of 2,610;
  • Thursday June 18: 85,926, increase of 3,207;
  • Friday, June 19: 89,748, increases of 3,822;
  • Saturday, June 20: 93,797, increase of 4,049;
  • Sunday, June 21: 97,291, increase of 3,494;
  • Monday, June 22: 100,217, increase of 2,926;
  • Tuesday, June 23: 103,503, increase of 3,286;
  • Wednesday, June 24: 109,014, increased of 5,511;
  • Thursday, June 25: 114,018, increase of 5,004;
  • Friday, June 26: 122,960, increase of 8,942;
  • Saturday, June 27: 132,545, increase of 9,585;
  • Sunday, June 28: 141,075, increase of 8,530;
  • Monday, June 29: 146,341, increase of 5,266;
  • Tuesday, June 30: 152,434, increase of 6,093;
  • Wednesday, July 1: 158,997, increase of 6,563;
  • Thursday, July 2: 169,106, increase of 10,019;
  • Friday, July 3: 178,594, increase of 9,488;
  • Saturday, July 4: 190,052, increase of 11,458;
  • Sunday, July 5: 200,111, increase of 10,059;
  • Monday, July 6: 206,447, increase of 6,336;
  • Tuesday, July 7: 213,794, increase of 7,347;
  • Wednesday, July 8: 223,783, increase of 9,989;
  • Thursday, July 9: 232,718, increase of 8,935;
  • Friday, July 10: 244,151, increase of 11,433;
  • Saturday, July 11: 254,511, increase of 10,360;
  • Sunday, July 12: 269,811, increase of 15,300;
  • Monday, July 13: 282,435, increase of 12,624;
  • Tuesday, July 14: 291,629, increase of 9,194;
  • Wednesday, July 15: 301,810, increase of 10,181;
  • Thursday, July 16: 315,775, increase of 13,965;
  • Friday, July 17: 327,241, increase of 11,466;
  • Saturday, July 18: 337,569, increase of 10,328;
  • Sunday, July 19: 350,047, increase of 12,478;
  • Monday, July 20: 360,899, increase of 10,347;
  • Tuesday, July 21: 369,834, increase of 9,440;
  • Wednesday, July 22: 379,619, increase of 9,785;
  • Thursday, July 23: 389,868, increase of 10,249;
  • Friday, July 24: 402,312, increase of 12,444;
  • Saturday, July 25: 414,511, increase of 12,199;
  • Sunday, July 26: 423,855, increase of 9,344;
  • Monday, July 27: 432,747, increase of 8,892;
  • Tuesday, July 28: 441,977, increase of 9,230;
  • Wednesday, July 29: 451,423, increase of 9,446;
  • Thursday, July 30: 461,379 increase of 9,956;
  • Friday, July 31: 470,386, increase of 9,007;
  • Saturday, Aug. 1: 480,028, increase of 9,642;
  • Sunday, Aug. 2: 487,132, increase of 7,104;
  • Monday, Aug. 3: 491,884, increase of 4,742;
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4: 497,330, increase of 5,446;
  • Wednesday, Aug. 5: 502,739, increase of 5,409;
  • Thursday, Aug. 6: 510,389, increase of 7,650;
  • Friday, Aug. 7: 518,075, increase of 7,686;
  • Saturday, Aug. 8: 526,577, increase of 8,502;
  • Sunday, Aug. 9: 532,806, increase of 6,229;
  • Monday, Aug. 10: 536,961, increase of 4,155;
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11: 542,792, increase of 5,831;
  • Wednesday, Aug. 12: 550,901, increase of 8,109;
  • Thursday, Aug. 13: 557,137, increase of 6,236;
  • Friday, Aug. 14: 563,285, increase of 6,148;
  • Saturday, Aug. 15: 569,637, increase of 6,352;
  • Sunday, Aug. 16: 573,416, increase of 3,779;
  • Monday, Aug. 17: 576,094, increase of 2,678;
  • Tuesday, Aug. 18: 579,932, increase of 3,928;
  • Wednesday, Aug. 19: 584,047, increase of 4,115;
  • Thursday, Aug. 20: 588,602, increase of 4,555;
  • Friday, Aug. 21: 593,286, increase of 4,684;
  • Saturday, Aug. 22: 597,597, increase of 4,311;
  • Sunday, Aug. 23: 600,571, increase of 2,974;
  • Monday, Aug. 24: 602,829, increase of 2,258;
  • Tuesday, Aug. 25: 605,502, increase of 2,673;
  • Wednesday, Aug. 26: 608,722, increase of 3,220;
  • Thursday, Aug. 27: 611,991, increase of 3,269;
  • Friday, Aug. 28: 615,806, increase of 3,815;
  • Saturday, Aug. 29: 619,003, increase of 3,197;
  • Sunday, Aug. 30: 621,586, increase of 2,583;
  • Monday, Aug. 31: 623,471, increase of 1,885;
  • Tuesday, Sept. 1: 631,040, increase of 7,560;
  • Wednesday, Sept. 2: 633,442, increase of 2,402;
  • Thursday, Sept. 3: 637,013, increase of 3,571;
  • Friday, Sept. 4: 640,211, increase of 3,198;
  • Saturday, Sept. 5: 640,211, increase of 3,198;
  • Sunday, Sept. 6: 646,431, increase of 2,564;
  • Monday, Sept. 7: 648,269, increase of 1,838;
  • Tuesday, Sept. 8: 650,092, increase of 1,823;
  • Wednesday, Sept. 9: 652,148, increase of 2,056;
  • Thursday, Sept. 10: 654,731, increase of 2,583;
  • Friday, Sept. 11: 658,381, increase of 3,650;
  • Saturday, Sept. 12: 661,571, increase of 3,190;
  • Sunday, Sept. 13: 663,994, increase of 2,423;
  • Monday, Sept. 14: 665,730, increase of 1,736;
  • Tuesday, Sept. 15: 668,846, increase of 3,116;
  • Wednesday, Sept. 16: 671,201, increase of 2,355;
  • Thursday, Sept. 17: 674,456, increase of 3,255;
  • Friday, Sept. 18: 677,660, increase of 3,204;
  • Saturday, Sept. 19: 681,233, increase of 3,573;
  • Sunday, Sept. 20: 683,754, increase of 2,521;
  • Monday, Sept. 21: 685,439, increase of 1,685;
  • Tuesday, Sept. 22: 687,909, increase of 2,470;
  • Wednesday, Sept. 23: 690,499, increase of 2,590;
  • Thursday, Sept. 24: 693,040, increase of 2,541; and
  • Friday, Sept. 25: 695,887, increase of 2,847.

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