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New rules in effect for parking in downtown Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. — If you visit downtown Orlando on the weekends, there are new rules for parking at public garages.

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The city just announced new regulations in hopes of improving safety in the area.

Drivers can only use public garages until 11 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

“I’m very curious to see how this is gonna work out like we work here,” said Beatrice Lebron, who works in the downtown area. “Sometimes we come out here at night, we use public parking. So we’re kind of curious, is that going to affect us? I’m not happy about any of this.”

Read: More than 170 families who lost loved ones in crashes meet with lawmakers to demand safety changes

The move has faced some criticism not only from downtown-goers but also from businesses.

“Some still haven’t even fully recovered from COVID,” said Evan Schunemann, who works at a restaurant downtown.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to affect a lot of the bottom lines for a lot of these businesses out there.”

Read: Survey: Most Orlando residents don’t feel safe downtown at night

If you parked in the garages before 11 pm, the facilities will still be staffed, so you can still get your car out, but no reentry will be allowed.

According to the measure, the city has been working on improving safety in the area through a partnership with the Orlando Police Department for months.

Last year, city leaders passed a moratorium on new nightclubs opening downtown. Additionally, businesses serving alcohol past midnight must now have a special permit.

Read: Police release video of downtown Orlando weekend protests

Those initiatives were put in place after a shooting scare during fireworks at the fountain at Lake Eola in 2022, and a shooting that left seven people hurt.

“I don’t feel like that’s going to make us safer,” said Jackie Nieves, who works and frequents the area. “People are just going to start making a commotion about it.”

While the parking changes will add another layer of security, for restaurant workers, it’ll come with a high cost.

A downtown worker says it will come with a high cost.

“I think it’s actually going to end up screwing over a lot of the people who work in the industry out here,” said Schunemann. “It’s gonna be harder for a lot of us to get to work. The garages that aren’t owned by the city, are going to jack up their prices, so we’re gonna be making less and less money.”

Those who live in one of the buildings in the area with shared parking spaces with the city will still be able to come in and out of the garages at any time—as long as they have proof of residency and present that to the staff.

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