St. Augustine looks to revive tourism industry as coronavirus restrictions relax

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Restaurants in Florida are preparing to re-open on Monday under new relaxed coronavirus guidelines set by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Indoor dining can only reopen with a 25% capacity and outdoor seating must have tables six feet apart with parties no more than 10.

On a beautiful day in May, St. George Street would normally be packed but it was pretty calm Sunday afternoon. Starting Monday, the city should be showing a lot more signs of life.

It’s more than just restaurants reopening.

The City of St. Augustine has a plan to get a list of tourist activities back on track.

  • Indoor shops, museums and libraries can open at 25% capacity
  • Hotels and lodging can reopen at their discretion
  • Trolley tours and horse-drawn carriages can start up again with limited operations

Up and down St. George Street, restaurant staff are hard at work getting ready to reopen.

Mi Casa Cafe said it is waiting until Saturday to finish up some renovations.

“We’re just tearing down everything, stripping it, completely refinishing everything. We could open tomorrow, we’re gonna wait til Saturday because we have an older customer base kind of so we want everybody to make sure they’re safe and feel comfortable," said general manager Eric Shoop.

City parking, including street and garage parking, will be free until further notice.

City Manager John Regan said it is following the guidelines set by the state and want everyone to still be careful.

Everything from social distancing, wearing masks when appropriate and keeping in mind essential versus non-essential travel and recreation.

St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra Beach and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau have released a "Recovery Tool Kit” to help local businesses ease back into reopening. The online guide includes financial, operational, and tourism resources.

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