Florida Bars Permitted to Reopen at Limited Capacity on Monday

Joseph and Julia Salvaggio, vacationing from Long Island, N.Y., enjoy a glass of wine at the Wild Sea Oyster Bar and Grille at the Riverside Hotel during the new coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The restaurant closed the bar and installed protective dividers between tables. …
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Florida officials are allowing bars to open their doors for onsite service, Halsey Beshears, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation secretary, announced Thursday.

“In meetings with hundreds of owners of bars and breweries across the state, I’ve heard their stories of struggle, and I’ve observed their serious commitment to making health and safety a continuing priority in their businesses,” Beshears said in a statement.

“It’s time that we take this step, and it’s vital that we start moving forward with this sector of our hospitality industry who have endured one of the toughest paths for sustaining a business during this pandemic,” he added, announcing that bars will be permitted to reopen and operate at 50 percent capacity beginning Monday, September 14:

Florida ordered the closure of bars — establishments that garnered “50 percent of their gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages” — again in late June after the introduction of the state’s Phase 2 reopening process. That same month, cases of the coronavirus began to skyrocket across the state, particularly in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward counties.

“Based on recent increases in COVID-19 cases and non-compliance with previous orders, DBPR has taken action to suspend on-premises alcohol sales at bars,” Beshears said at the time, describing the action as a “necessary step to take to protect public health.”

“Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide,” the department announced on June 26:

On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) hinted that restrictions on restaurants could also be lifted in the coming days. They are currently confined to 50 percent capacity.

“We’re not where we want to be with the restaurants; we want to continue to make progress,” DeSantis said. “My goal is that every Floridian should be able to go to work; every business should be able to operate.”

“The places that closed restaurants versus didn’t, there was no difference. You know, obviously, you can get infected in a restaurant just like you can get infected if you’re around anywhere,” he added.

Beshears, who also participated in Thursday’s roundtable discussion in Fort Myers, said they are going to “look at the bad actors, that’s it, so not everyone gets punished” as they move forward in the reopening process.

Florida reported 647,318 resident cases of the virus and 12,326 related deaths as of Thursday afternoon:

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