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The Villages
Saturday, September 25, 2021

Villages restauranteurs react to CDC’s loosening of COVID-19 protocols

At least three Villages restaurant owners will be making changes in their eateries based on the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding COVID-19 safety protocols.

On Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on the virus that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can start doing things they had been forced to abandon when the pandemic swept across the country in March 2020. She said science supports a new recommendation that those who have been fully vaccinated can take part in indoor and outdoor activities – of all sizes – without wearing masks for practicing social distancing. She added that two studies from the United States and one from Israel show that the vaccines are working.

That led Allen Musikantow, owner/operator of the Cody’s Original Roadhouse restaurants in Lake Sumter Landing and Brownwood, to announce to his staff that those who have been fully vaccinated no longer have to wear masks after presenting their CDC cards showing proof of the immunization. They will be allowed to continue wearing masks if they wish to do so, but they will no longer be required to have their temperatures taken nor complete a form regarding their health when they arrive at work.

“If you have not been vaccinated, I encourage you to do so immediately,” Musikantow said. He added that he will pay employees an incentive of $20 when they present their CDC cards showing proof of vaccinations.

Fred Karimipour, owner of FMK Restaurant Group, said he’s also making a change in his seven Villages restaurants, which include Bluefin Grill & Bar in Brownwood Paddock Square, 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 in Brownwood – and a soon-to-be eighth eatery, Harvest, also in Brownwood.

“Our employees who have been vaccinated can stop wearing masks,” said Karimipour, while adding they also will need to show proof with their vaccination cards.

Gina Buell, who along with husband Mike owns the City Fire restaurants in Lake Sumter Landing and Brownwood, said her employees who have been vaccinated can use their discretion about wearing masks but they will still be a part of their uniforms. She added that staff members will gladly wear masks if customers ask them to do so and face coverings are available for any guests who request one.

Meanwhile, one more local resident has died of COVID-19. That fatality was recorded in Lake County and is among the 1,882 in the tri-county area, the 36,648 in Florida and the 584,276 across the country, according to statistics provided by the Florida Department of Health and John Hopkins University.

All told, Florida is reporting 2,282,613 COVID-19 cases – an increase of 4,064 from Wednesday to Thursday. Of those, 2,239,982 are residents. A total of 85,413 COVID-19 cases have been reported in long-term care centers and 32,627 in correctional facilities. Across the state, 92,742 people have been hospitalized.

Locally, 22 new COVID-19 cases were reported Thursday in communities around The Villages. Those include:

  • Leesburg up 10 for a total of 4,503;
  • Lady Lake up 3 for a total of 1,727;
  • Fruitland Park up 3 for a total of 856;
  • Belleview up 3 for a total of 1,384;
  • Wildwood up 1 for a total of 1,100;
  • Summerfield up 1 for a total of 1,936; and
  • Lady Lake portion of Sumter County up 1 for a total of 147.

Below is a breakdown of other COVID-19 activity in the local area:

TRI-COUNTY AREA

  • Cases: 70,854 – increase of 130
  • Deaths: 1,882
  • Hospitalizations: 4,332

SUMTER COUNTY

  • Cases: 9,374 – increase of 5
  • Deaths: 278
  • Hospitalizations: 580
  • Vaccinations: 84,526 (74,372 both doses)
  • Areas/cities with most cases: The Villages (4,266), Wildwood (1,100), Bushnell (1,043), Coleman (854) and Oxford (548).

LAKE COUNTY

  • Cases: 30,075 – increase of 78
  • Deaths: 639
  • Hospitalizations: 1,553
  • Vaccinations: 172,089 (141,607 both doses)
  • Cities with most cases: Clermont (8,064), Leesburg (4,503), Eustis (2,632), Mount Dora (2,171) and Groveland (2,074). The Villages also is reporting 188 cases.

MARION COUNTY

  • Cases: 31,405 – increase of 47
  • Deaths: 965
  • Hospitalizations: 2,199
  • Vaccinations: 139,656 (115,031 both doses)
  • Cities with most cases: Ocala (22,956), Summerfield (1,936), Dunnellon (1,461), Belleview (1,384) and Silver Springs (690). The Villages also is reporting 183 cases.

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