‘A gradual build up’: How Central Florida’s economy could recover from coronavirus pandemic

ORLANDO, Fla. — Hopes of a quick snap-back may have given way to a gradual recovery for the state.

While the governor may have an outline for reopening Florida, businesses and customers will reengage when they feel comfortable.

Restaurants will begin to reopen across the area on Monday but with limited capacity.

Read: Orange County mayor send letter to governor urging him to allow salons, barbershops to reopen

Theme parks, bars and other attractions remain closed.

Central Florida’s road back begins slowly and will be long.

“We are opening it up piecemeal and bit by bit,” said Dr. Sean Snaith, a University of Central Florida economist.

As Snaith points out, this recession and recovery is unlike anything in modern times.

“This is a recession that didn’t occur through the natural mechanisms of the economy. This was for public health. We basically pulled the plug on large sectors of the economy and shut them down,” Snaith said.

But for Central Florida and its reliance on tourism, the shutdown hit early and its lingering effects will depend not just on how long its closed, but how long other states and countries are closed.

Read: Looking ahead: What Phase 2, 3 could look like when reopening

“When things open up we’re not going to go back to 100 million visitors at an annual rate in Florida. There will be a gradual build up. One reason is disposable income,” Snaith said.

Snaith said while the federal stimulus checks and added unemployment benefits have helped, it has been uneven and even if people feel safe enough to travel, they will need the income to afford it, which could take time.

In a conference call with the state leaders, the CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts said it can limit the number of people let into the parks.

Meanwhile, restaurants and retail will start to reopen at a limited capacity.