Nassau County adult arcades still operating despite COVID-19

Since cyber cafes are entertainment venues, they don’t have to follow restrictions from Florida governor

Nassau County adult arcades still operating despite COVID-19
Nassau County adult arcades still operating despite COVID-19

YULEE, Fla. – As concerns about the spread of the coronavirus continue, some are worried that certain nonessential local businesses are still open to customers. That includes adult arcades, which some see as gambling.

Legally, they’re allowed to because they’re entertainment venues, not restaurants or bars, so they don’t have to follow the restrictions from the governor. That has some people upset.

One by one, and two by two, News4Jax cameras saw people going into Nassau County’s adult arcades on Tuesday.

“I guess people have to have a place to go,” said resident Dan Sylvester.

Despite widespread concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, which has Gov. Ron DeSantis limiting restaurants to 50% capacity and closing bars and nightclubs, adult arcade businesses have a loophole because they’re not restaurants, bars, clubs or pubs. Therefore, customers keep coming. Many are elderly, among the most at-risk population.

“I think it’s a shame,” said Kenny Turner. “The patrons could be spreading viruses from arcade to arcade.”

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News4Jax did see the same people going from arcade to arcade, which for the record only had a handful of customers in each.

In Yulee, there are 13 adult arcades. There are 12 in Callahan, three in Fernandina Beach and two in Hilliard. It’s a hotbed because Duval County banned them. The Nassau County Board of Commissioners voted them out as of the end of this month, but some think they should be closed right now.

“I don’t like them,” Sylvester added. “The crowds that they draw. Some people are nice, mostly they’re not.”

On Tuesday, News4Jax visited four cafes:

  • Spinners’ manager told News4Jax that they comply with the law and have sanitizing wipes.
  • Beach House Arcade locked the door on us.
  • RW’s Cyber Café’s owner said they weren’t worried because there’s only one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nassau County, but he had no other comment.
  • And Pot Of Gold’s owner said, "When somebody closes, I’m going to close like everybody.”

Across the county, the Emergency Operations Center has been activated and authorities are monitoring the outbreak closely.

The cyber cafe controversy in Nassau County is supposed to be in federal court Thursday. Lawyers representing two of them are asking for more time before they’re banned in the county at the end of the month.

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