Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, lifted all Covid-19 restrictions on Friday. All businesses, including bars and restaurants no longer have state mandated restrictions. DeSantis allowed local governments to impose some restrictions, if the restaurant isn’t faced with a restriction limiting their seating capacity to more than 50%.
Yesterday, while talking to the manager of an Orlando restaurant I frequent about how the reopening was going we both suddenly realized another hurdle in the economic recovery of the country – fear.
Fear is the underlining issue that has killed the American economy. But Florida’s reopening brought forth another wrinkle to the fear factor.
The restaurant manager told me that instead of noticing an increase in business they noticed less people were coming in to eat after DeSantis lifted the restrictions. They were not expecting that, and neither was I.
As I walked downtown Orlando at lunchtime, I noticed that that the few restaurants that were open did not seem to have too many customers. It seemed to me that nothing had changed, even though the restrictions had been lifted.
Downtown Orlando has been basically dead since March when Covid-19 became an issue in March.
I do not expect the downtown area to make a significant recovery soon.
However, as the restaurant manager and I were discussing the drop in clients it soon dawned on us that people are now more afraid to go out to eat because of the lifting of the restrictions.
In other words, rather than getting the economy moving again, the Rod DeSantis order may be having an opposite effect, making more people fearful of going out to eat.
By no means is this a scientific analysis. It is just an anecdotal observation.
However, my Orlando downtown walk showed to me that not many restaurants are making significant changes to accommodate the lifting of the restrictions. Many still had tables set aside limiting the dining room to a smaller capacity.
The restaurant manager I was speaking to, told me that they have decided to continue wearing masks and that they will continue to sit people apart to help “reduce the fear” of eating out.
We both felt that people are still afraid to be exposed to the virus and now that restrictions have been lifted, they are less likely to eat out.
In the coming weeks we will know if the fear is there and if the reopening of Florida exacerbates the economic situation instead of making it better. Stay tuned.