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Governor vows to keep Florida bars shut down as virus rages

Curve has to flatten before bars can open.

For roughly three weeks in June, much of Florida reopened bars after closing them in March. Soon enough, they were closed again, as coronavirus proved resurgent.

On June 3, DeSantis issued an executive order allowing openings at 50% capacity. But it didn’t last the month. And now, there’s no telling when bars will open again, the Governor warned.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday in Bradenton that the “status quo” of bar closures would remain in place until the “positivity rate is down” for COVID-19 tests.

That rate, per the Florida Department of Health, stood at 12.5% in tests processed Friday.

The comments came after a group of bar owners in Volusia County sued the Governor and Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears this week.

“Right now, we’re not making any changes. Status quo,” DeSantis said, adding that “we want to get this positivity rate down” until Florida is in a more “stable situation.”

The Governor said the state “plan” allowed bars to reopen at reduced capacity, but they couldn’t comply.

“The problem was no one was following that,” DeSantis added. “I get that’s not how they want to operate.”

“When we were getting reports of them just having packed party situations,” he added, “that was not a part of the guidelines.”

That created a game of “whack-a-mole” for DBPR, attempting to enforce guidelines on a sector seemingly unable to police itself,

“If the plan wasn’t being followed, then there just was not a way we’re going to do it,” DeSantis added.

The Governor, before closing bars again last month, expressed irritation with establishments that went rogue against his order.

“If you go in and it’s just like mayhem, like Dance Party USA, and it’s packed to the rafters, that’s just cut and dry, and that’s not just an innocent mistake,” DeSantis said.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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