A South Florida bar was swarmed with maskless crowds after reopening for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, only to be shut down by health officials for violating pandemic protocols.
The Wharf Fort Lauderdale was flooded over the weekend with young people drinking, dancing, and ignoring social distancing rules, prompting health officials to intervene, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
“If they’re not making patrons wear masks, they’re leaving us no option other than to shut them down,” Broward Mayor Steve Geller told the newspaper.
County officials visited the bar on Saturday three times, citing it for violating coronavirus guidelines with each visit.
Health officials noted that The Wharf allowed patrons to enter and order without wearing masks, and the bar did not have a Plexiglass divider.
The bar denied that it let people without masks enter, adding extras were on hand to give out to patrons who did not have any.
“Once inside the open-air venue, guests chose to ignore the rules and congregated near the main bar despite over an acre of property where they could socially distance,” the bar said.
Though officials only ordered the bar to shut down for 24 hours, the South Florida watering hole says it will not reopen until it can do so normally.
“People want to grab a drink and walk around. We built the Wharf [for customers] to have a certain experience,” co-owner Emilio Guerra told the newspaper. “And with the guidelines and regulations being forced on us, we unfortunately have to close down.”
There have been more than 924,000 Florida residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus, with more than 17,991 deaths as of Monday, according to statistics from the Florida Department of Health.