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VP Mike Pence visits tourism-reliant Florida as Disney shops reopen

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 19: Vice President Mike Pence wears a mask as he departs the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after meeting with him at the U.S. Capitol on May 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump is scheduled to attend a luncheon this afternoon with Senate Republicans. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Vice President Mike Pence visited central Florida to meet with tourism officials Wednesday as the region’s biggest tourist destination — Walt Disney World — began reopening a shopping and entertainment complex.

During his trip to Orlando, Pence was also scheduled to talk to the governor and drop off protective equipment at a nursing home as tourism, the state’s biggest industry, continued taking steps toward reopening.

Some third-party shops at the Disney Springs complex opened Wednesday with new requirements and restrictions. All workers and visitors older than 2 must wear masks, temperatures will be checked at entrances to keep out anyone with a temperature higher than 100.4 and a limited number of people will be admitted to allow social distancing at the high-end outdoor shopping area with restaurants, movie theaters, a bowling alley and a Cirque du Soleil theater.

Walt Disney World and its crosstown rivals, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld, have been closed since mid-March in an effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Officials haven’t said when theme parks and hotels at the resorts will reopen.

Florida’s tourist-reliant economy was crippled this spring with the closures of the theme parks, beaches, convention centers and hotels. More than 2 million Floridians have filed jobless claims in a state with a 10 million-person workforce before the pandemic.

Critics of the Trump administration called the vice president’s visit “too little too late.”

“It’s not enough to show up for a photo op two months later,” said Terrie Rizzo, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party in an online news conference with reporters on Tuesday.

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