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Islander in US says 4 July national holiday will be a testing time with Covid

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INDEPENDENCE Day will be a testing time for Americans as parts of the country face soaring infection rates of Covid-19, an Islander who had made a new life in Florida has said.

Former chief officer at the Bailiff’s Chambers, David Filipponi (28731157)

David Filipponi, a former chief executive at the Bailiff’s Chambers, today lives in Clermont where he runs a property management and holiday rentals business with his wife, Kathryn.

Florida is currently a hot spot of new infections with 10,109 infections recorded on Thursday, a rise of almost 4,000 from the previous day.

He said: ‘The Fourth of July national holiday is a real test for the authorities to control crowds, gatherings and large numbers of people who like to celebrate their national pride.’

The more than 55,000 new cases confirmed on Thursday brought the nationwide total to 2,715,124 with 128,439 deaths, the highest of any country in the world.

Restrictions such as closing bars and beaches and stopping mass gatherings are being reimposed ahead of Independence Day but Mr Filipponi says most Americans are being vigilant.

He said: ‘The situation was eased here in Florida from mid to late May and it has been phased to control a return to some normality but people are being very cautious.

‘Many people choose to wear face masks where they are not required, and all retail/service industries employees must wear them. Social distancing is still being heavily promoted as well as personal hygiene.

‘Following an easing there has recently been an increase in infections giving further cause for concern, especially centred around the 18 to 35 age group, and mainly larger cities such as Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville.

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‘Looking around there is much to suggest a return to normality but the reality is that it is much quieter with a lot less commercial activity in the area.’

Florida is known as the ‘sunshine state’ and is a popular holiday destination for Americans and visitors from overseas.

Mr Filipponi said: ‘There are still very few tourists and many of the service/hospitality sector businesses continue to operate at minimum level. Having said that, there is a huge pent-up demand by visitors to the area, which has slowly seen a steady influx of “locals”, but more for R&R rather than the vacation experience more normally associated with this area of Florida.

‘Universal Theme Park is open as is Sea World and Disney opens in mid July – all with heavy restrictions – you need a reservation for park entry, for example. Numbers are restricted, face masks are a must as is social distancing and hand washing.

‘Latest news on the Florida spike is that there will be further restrictions imposed such as beach closures and bar closures. However, testing is ongoing and widespread.’

Paula Thelwell

By Paula Thelwell
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