Florida closes bars again as COVID-19 cases spike

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The abrupt announcement comes amid more record case numbers.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation ordered the suspension of on-premises alcohol consumption at bars around the state Friday after health enforcement efforts were deemed to be “impractical and insufficient.”

“The number of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 increased significantly in the State of Florida and some of these cases involving younger individuals are suspected to have originated from visits to bars, pubs, or nightclubs who have disregarded the restrictions,” the order said.

“Noncompliance by bars and other vendors license to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises is suspected throughout the state to such a degree as to make individualized enforcement efforts impractical and insufficient at this time.”

The announcement was tweeted by DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears shortly after Florida reported nearly 9,000 new COVID-19 cases.

“Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on-premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide,” Beshears tweeted.

Restaurants are not impacted by the order. However, businesses that derive more than 50% of their gross revenue from alcohol sales must suspend on-site consumption.

The order highlights an overnight change in narrative from the Secretary.

Yesterday, Bershears encouraged businesses to play by the rules and “hang in there.”

“EO-139 states restaurants & bars may operate at 50% of their indoor capacity, excluding employees,” Beshears tweeted less than 24 hours ago. “Bar areas may be open with seated service. Outdoor seating is permissible with social distancing. Stay compliant, hang in there & let’s get this right Florida.”

Most bars reopened in early June as a step in Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s Phase Two plan to reopen Florida.

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The bars reopened with strict health guidelines including mask mandates for employees and proper social distancing measures.

The reopening and enforcement of bar and restaurant restrictions raised eyebrows among some circles for being loosely enforced.

A bar near the University of Central Florida, however, lost its liquor license this week for a lack of safety measures and became the poster child for state officials’ vow to crack down on coronavirus scofflaws.

Knight’s Pub in Orlando maintains the state’s account of its business practices were false.

COVID-19 numbers have surged in recent days and set record highs in some areas for the Sunshine State.

In total, 122,960 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the Sunshine State, including 2,386 non-residents. The prior daily record was 5,511, set Wednesday.

 

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.


4 comments

  • Rocky

    June 27, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    What people are forgetting, is that the restrictions were only intended to slow down the rate of infection until the health system could keep up with it. Since the initial fears were overblown and since there is adequate hospital capacity now, we should all get on with our lives and catch and recover from the virus so as to develop herd immunity and thus be done with this virus. All that trying to slow the infection rate down will accomplish is to make this pandemic drag on that much longer.
    Yes we must continue to protect those most at risk, but it should be their own responsibility and efforts, not edicts from either elected, or unelected personages.
    Note; I am in the category of people who may be at greater risk due to age and underlying medical conditions.

  • Totally Disgusted w/Government

    June 27, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    We need to do the opposite of what our government is telling us. Officials are encouraging us to get tested and now the results are being used against we the people. Notice that we don’t see the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths being told to us, which according to some newsworthy sources, are decreasing across the nation except for a few hotspots.

    People, don’t let government officials tells us what to do. You elected them. Tell them what you want them to do. If we continue on this trend, our rights will disappear and we will be seeing our Constitution in the Smithsonian with the phrase “this was how it used to be”.

    Corona virus is here to stay, so of course the number of cases is going to rise, and hiding in our homes and allowing officials to put us under house arrest is not the answer. Herd immunity is the only answer. We have a flu vaccine and people still die from the flu every year. This is no different.

  • Sarah

    June 29, 2020 at 5:02 am

    Both Mark Rubio and DeSantis confidently claim they won’t be shutting things down again and then the next second bars get shut down. You go on and on about how millions of lives and jobs have been destroyed and then you go and do the opposite of what you just said. These bar owners have had it the worst. They’ve only been open for three weeks and you’re putting them through it again? How is a bar different than a restaurant?

  • Jennifer

    June 29, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    I agree with the frustrations of the previous comments. The shut down was supposed to help, but if we are going to shut down again then did it really help? The wearing of masks is ridiculous and I am supporting businesses that don’t make it mandatory for their employees. All of these measures were supposed to help, instead it is tearing our communities apart and placing more and more restrictions. I vote for freedom.

Comments are closed.


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