Orange County mayor looking to relax mask mandates and social distancing requirements

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Mayor Jerry Demings said Orange County is working on a phased plan to relax mask mandates and social distancing requirements around the county.

The phased approach will be based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plan will also take into account rising vaccination and falling infection rates, as well as differences between indoor and outdoor venues.

READ: Florida reports highest COVID-19 case increase in two months

“Where our physicians and epidemiologist feel comfortable that we can begin to relax the wearing of face masks and social distancing, we will do that at an appropriate time,” Demings said. “They’re telling me that they’re feeling pretty comfortable at this point.”

Demings stated the plan is not a move pressured by the tourism industry, and he believes people will still be willing to cover up even after mandates are lifted.

READ: J&J vaccine pause: What should you do if you’ve already gotten the vaccine

“I believe for the foreseeable future, the world around us is changed and it’s going to be changed for a significant period of time,” Demings said.

Channel 9 spoke to some park-goers in Lake Eola, who are still concerned about variants and protecting themselves indoors.

Coronavirus: US health agencies call for pause in use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

“We’re still social distancing, we’re still away from people,’ said park-goer Andrew James. “I would feel weird cause it’s still real, you know? “It would be weird, I would have a mask going into a restaurant, just to feel safe. "

Park-goer Chris Edwards said, “It still comes down to the fact we still have to protect ourselves. Definitely keeping the mask is key, but you also want to be able to know that if you are going to take it off, is it going to be a safe time?”

READ: Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause: What is cerebral venous sinus thrombosis?

Demings said he wants to announce his plan as soon as he can, possibly by the end of the week, and added that the phased plan could be delayed at any time if the area sees a significant spike in cases.