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Fort Myers Beach bans reservations in town for 90 days

Beach businesses are now worried about their bottom line after the Southwest Florida town they work in made new restrictions that will mean fewer visitors, which means less money for them.

To prevent further spread of the coronavirus, The Town of Fort Myers Beach decided to ban any reservations for the next 90 days at its Monday meeting.

“Very drastic cuts, one person a day, one in the morning, one at night,” said Angelica Vazqueztell, an employess at Bella Mozaraella.

Jason Unger is the owner of The Doghouse restaurant, and he is worried about the restrictions that persist in the state and the town.

“It’s definitely going to continue in a downward trend, I think,” Unger said.

A 90-day, reservation ban on Fort Myers Beach means no new reservations or extensions. That means no visitors on the island to support businesses with their doors still open, a reality that concerns John Gant, an employee of Yo! Taco.

“Everyone around here is probably pretty worried right now,” Gant said. “I know a lot of people who look for this time of year to make their ends meet, and now it definitely isn’t what it’s usually and what it’s supposed to be.”

Mayor Anita Cereceda says the devastation to businesses will be dramatic, but the health and safety of Fort Myers Beach neighbors is a priority.

“The fact of the matter is, without living human beings, what difference does it make if we have a business?” Cereceda said. “We are dealing with what we can do to protect human beings, and then the economic part will hopefully fall into place.”

Mayor Cereceda told us the length of the ban will be reevaluated by the council on a constant basis. That means council will look at this issue weekly or even daily to see if any reconsiderations need to be made.

Though Unger’s business has been hit hard already, he said he understands the importance of closing hotels to protect community health.

“Financially, we’ve been down a good 70, 80 percent easy for the month of March,” Unger said. “They were packed with people, and we know that that’s not a good thing with this virus spreading around, so we have to eliminate that as fast as possible and as efficiently as possible.”

Now, Unger is relying on his local customer base to keep him going.

“Without an income at all, it’s going to be harder for them to support local businesses,” Unger said. “So it’s not going to get much prettier than this, I don’t think.”

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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