COVID-19’s not-so-wild ride

Locals ready to hit the road again for summer vacations

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CLAY COUNTY – Residents are more ready to begin traveling and enjoying what’s open in Florida.

Clay Today reached out to readers through Facebook to gather their thoughts on how they feel about traveling during the coronavirus pandemic. With major theme parks like Universal Studios, SeaWorld and Disney World opening this summer, it seems ready or not, tourism is ready for a comeback. The majority of comments Clay Today received indicate that Clay County is ready for it, too.

“No, it is not too soon,” Clarissa Laseter said. “We cannot continue to live in fear of this virus. We should take wise precautions, but the financial impact caused by the government’s reaction has generated a much larger crisis. If you are not comfortable traveling, then don’t. That is your right as an American. If you are comfortable traveling, then go for it but be responsible and respectful.”

This sentiment is echoed throughout the nearly 50 comments Clay Today received. Clay County residents believe the choice should be up to the consumer in this instance. If they want to travel, they should be able to and they should take whatever precautions they feel necessary. Some people said they wouldn’t go near something as crowded as a theme park like Disney World or Universal Studios.

Instead, they said they’d prefer something more secluded like a state park.

“I think I would travel in my car to a state park or some place that won’t be overly crowded,” Wendy Richardson said.

People like P.G. Shaffer said it’s important that Orlando theme parks open back up for business as their economic contributions affect the rest of the state. He also said it’s unfair for the government to keep mom and pop businesses closed. Susan Soltys errs on the side of caution in regards to theme parks. She said with the number of international and national tourists that come into Florida for theme parks, Florida will soon be “COVID-19 USA.”

Others feel that it is too soon to begin traveling again.

“We feel it’s too soon,” Rachel Davis said. “We aren’t even taking our kids out locally so I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable taking them on a vacation. To each their own though.”

Linda Turnage would agree with Davis. She said she understands the need to balance out the economy after the months-long shutdown due to the coronavirus, but she feels it’s all moving too fast. She said travel from international countries should be limited for the time being to help reduce the spread.

Linda Mitchell said she’s less concerned about theme parks and travel destinations opening back up and more concerned with the local economy.

“I’m concerned about local income, not Disney,” Mitchell said. “Open the local bars. The income being lost by owners, staff and entertainers is essential to them. Open the American Legions, Fleet Reserve, VFWs. These places are a haven for the Vets. Restaurants are open. Many serve liquor. At some point but the bars stay open until 2 a.m.

“What’s the difference?”

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