Orange County

Striking gold: Downtown Orlando bars see big business for St. Patrick’s Day amid pandemic restrictions

ORLANDO, Fla. — One year after bars across Central Florida were shut down on one of their busiest days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wednesday night told a different story.

At least some of the crowds have come back – and with them, some optimism.

In downtown Orlando, bars are allowed to welcome in St. Patrick’s Day revelers, with some restrictions.

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While many people are walking around without masks, bar owners said they’re doing what they can once people walk through their doors.

Roger Wall owns Embassy Irish Bar and said St. Patrick’s Day is “the biggest day of the year” for them, and the revenue from that day alone will pay several months in rent for his bar.

He said he’s grateful to be open, but was a little nervous about people coming out.

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“We have already had a visit today from the Orange County Strikeforce to remind us that they’ll be out this evening,” Wall said. “So hopefully, we don’t do anything to run afoul of them.”

Flags and shamrocks weren’t the only things decorating Embassy’s windows and door. There were also plenty of signs reminding patrons that face masks are mandatory, and to allow at least six feet for social distancing.

“It seems like people are trying to be safe,” said Mark Laframboise, a customer.

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Orange County’s Strike Teams have issued 28 citations since December. But last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning local governments from fining businesses for COVID-19 violations.

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.