Change in rules: State regulators now say yes to cocktails to go
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Woman bartender in medical mask treats her hands with disinfector bar
Restaurant managers must bar employees who went to New York — and other rules.

Yes, your to-go order from your favorite restaurant now can provide mixed drinks in sealed plastic cups to go. That also includes cans of beer or bottles of wine.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has reversed an earlier rule and now allows the sale of cocktails and other mixed drinks.

Under the coronavirus pandemic emergency, extraordinary actions have been ordered at local and statewide levels, with some rules changing on the fly.

Those include restaurant and bar provisions covered by Gov. Ron DeSantisexecutive order last week. The order closed restaurants for dining in, but then extended an authority they never had: to include alcoholic beverages in carry-out or delivery orders of food, provided the proprietor has an alcohol license.

However, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation published guidelines initially banned mixed drinks. That now is changed, according to advisories sent out to restaurants.

“After consulting with the Secretary, the Governor, and ABT Leadership, we are relaxing the “sealed alcoholic beverage requirement,” the advisory declares. “Effective immediately, licensees can sell cocktails, wine and beer in cups, jugs and other reasonable containers, as long as the alcoholic beverage is for consumption off the licensed premises. We aren’t going to tell the licensee how to seal the cup. The thought behind this is not to be an impediment to business at a time when most, if not all are suffering economically.”

It’s not the only point being clarified by the FDB&PR FAQ that might surprise some consumers. Among other advisories:

— Restaurants with alcohol licenses may send sealed alcoholic beverages out for delivery by third-party delivery services.

— Customers may enter restaurants, but they may not consume food and beverages in the restaurant, and restaurants should prevent the congregating of customers in the restaurant.

— Restaurant managers have to become health care workers: They must meet each employee outside the restaurant before each shift, then evaluate the employee for obvious signs of illness. Managers must send the employee home if symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, or signs of a respiratory infection are directly observed.

— Managers also should prohibit any employee from entering the restaurant if the employee answers “yes” to  questions about: experiencing signs or symptoms; had any close contact with any person who ahas been confirmed infected with COVID-19; has returned from international travel or a cruise within 14 days; has returned from travel to an area known for high numbers of cases, including New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, within the last 14 days.

— Airport terminals are exempted from on-site dining bans, provided the vendors adhere to “enhanced precautionary measures.”

— A restaurant that has had its alcoholic-beverages license suspended can still sell to-go food.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


13 comments

  • Thomas Knapp

    March 27, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is a non-essential business. I hereby order its immediate closure.

  • John C.

    March 28, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    Scott, I can not find anything on the DBPR website that reiterates what you say here. Please post the actual link to the “published guidelines” you make reference to in the article.

    • Mike

      March 29, 2020 at 9:27 am

      I also can’t find anything on any government website that clarifies the “ sealed “ container as you describe .
      Please supply direct link to the quotes .
      Ty

  • Lynne Deal

    March 29, 2020 at 9:19 am

    how do we find out if its true!

  • Brian

    March 29, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Irresponsible to post this article with no reference and not link to the actual statement. Especially at this time where so many people are looking for answers and some way to bring money into their business. Please clarify or take down, just adding to the confusion

    • Thomas Knapp

      March 29, 2020 at 12:49 pm

      Would you like some cheese to go with that whine? Waaah! Someone told me what’s up but didn’t do all my research for me! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

      • Brian

        March 30, 2020 at 9:40 am

        Except all I do is research because I actually have a bar, with real employees who’s lives are being affected, and no one anywhere can find anything that was referenced in this article. How about you grow up buddy. Any journalist shouldn’t have a problem providing references for their article.

        • Thomas Knapp

          March 30, 2020 at 9:58 am

          If you have a bar and employees whose lives are affected, then how about you serve drinks until someone official-looking shows up and tells you to stop? Then, if you don’t have a pistol to wave in his face, I guess you let him shut you down.

          A journalist’s job is to report the news, not to do your research for you.

  • Jim Kaiser

    March 29, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Not a whine, but a true reference to DBPR would be nice. Neither city codes people or law enforcement city and county know what is being referenced.

    • Thomas Knapp

      March 29, 2020 at 2:46 pm

      Are you suggesting that city codes people and law enforcement get their instructions from the Florida Politics Blog?

      And what do they have to do with it anyway? Non-essential enterprises are supposed to be closed, and there’s nothing less essential than city code enforcers except maybe — MAYBE — scabies.

  • Vincent Foti

    April 4, 2020 at 5:36 am

    Still looking for info and guidance from either Governors office or DBPR. Local government and Law enforcement say only sealed containers from distributers not mixed drinks in covered containers to go allowed. Official info anyone?

  • Thomas Knapp

    April 4, 2020 at 8:23 am

    “Still looking for info and guidance from either Governors office or DBPR.”

    You had the guidance from DBPR in late March:

    “After consulting with the Secretary, the Governor, and ABT Leadership, we are relaxing the ‘sealed alcoholic beverage requirement.’ Effective immediately, licensees can sell cocktails, wine and beer in cups, jugs and other reasonable containers, as long as the alcoholic beverage is for consumption off the licensed premises. We aren’t going to tell the licensee how to seal the cup. The thought behind this is not to be an impediment to business at a time when most, if not all are suffering economically.”

    If you prefer not to act on that guidance, as promulgated in multiple venues of the blog (Florida Politics), mainstream media (Orlando Sentinel), and Trade (Alcoholic Beverages News) variety, that’s your call, but you not wanting to listen to “guidance” is not the same thing as there not BEING “guidance.”

    • Jesse Walcutt

      April 5, 2020 at 3:37 pm

      Except I had ABT officers in my bar telling me that this is not allowed! That they must be in factory sealed containers meaning restaurants can sell packaged liquor like any bar with a 4COP. I have reached out to the state office multiple times with no response and the local office said they will not comment to call the state. The officers who did come out told me explicitly that if it was in a non factory sealed container there would be no warning just the loss of my 4COP which is quite expensive. So yes it would be nice to have an actual cited reference not just a quote that is not cited before I risk my license

Comments are closed.


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