Orange County COVID-19 strike team expands monitoring as Florida bars prepare to reopen

ORLANDO, Fla. — Bar owners in Central Florida are working overtime to get their businesses ready to reopen as county officials step up monitoring for safety violations meant to check the spread of the coronavirus.

Bar owners say they’re doing everything they can to avoid getting shut down again.

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Gary Schwartz is ready for downtown Orlando to come back alive, ready for the fans at Saturday’s Orlando City Soccer to tailgate with him and stop by his bar, the Kush Lounge, before and after games.

“Everyone’s ready to come out,” he said. “The people are just dying to get back to their normal routines.”

The Kush Lounge could reopen Monday, but the tweet announcing so didn’t come out until 7 p.m. on Thursday, so like many bar owners, to get fully ready, Schwartz is waiting a few days.

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The return of bars will come just two days after Orange County’s strike teams expand their hours.

To making sure businesses comply with the guidelines beyond Monday through Friday and 9-to-5, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the teams will work weekends.

When bars reopen, Schwartz said he hopes to see owners and customers following the rules so they can stay in business this time.