Mostly empty downtown Punta Gorda area sign of hope for the future

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Downtown Punta Gorda. Credit: WINK News.

If you take a walk through downtown Punta Gorda right now, there’s not much to see or hear. But community leaders say that’s not a bad thing.

We looked at why seeing a ghost town currently is a good thing Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kevin Doyle’s team at the Celtic Ray Public House restaurant is still employed.

“We’re pretty much running as a nonprofit right now,” said Doyle, the co-owner of Celtic Ray.

Celtic Ray relies on to-go orders until life gets back to normal.

“I hope that will be a few weeks because we won’t last that much longer,” Doyle said.

The outdoor patio is quiet and empty in compliance with Florida law.

Much of downtown Punta Gorda is the same.

“It’s like a ghost town,” Doyle said. “You expect to see tumbleweeds.”

There are fewer cars on the road, Barron Collier and Gilchrist bridges nearly free of traffic, closed stores and public rec areas blocked off.

“We’re just trying to make sure that we are keeping our citizens safe,” said Vice Mayor Lynne Matthews of Punta Gorda.

Lynne said she is happy with the current community performance regarding guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“People are finally starting to listen and pay attention to the social distancing rules,” Lynne said.

The more people stay home and social distance, the quicker life will get closer to normal.

“That is what I miss is our people, crowds,” Doyle said.

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