Gov. Ron DeSantis won’t commit to allowing bars to reopen anytime soon, he said on Wednesday.
The Governor, addressing reporters after a mental health roundtable in Altamonte Springs, said he supported the decision of Division of Business and Professional Regulation head Halsey Beshears to talk to pub owners.
But reopening is not happening yet, DeSantis said, essentially maintaining the same position he’s had for weeks.
“I think everyone deserves a seat at the table,” the Governor said regarding Beshears’ trips around to state to meet with frustrated bar owners demonetized by the government’s decision to close their industry for most of the last five months.
“We’re not making any changes at this minute,” DeSantis added.
Beshears was “having to play whack-a-mole” with bars in cities around the state before a statewide re-closure of them in June, including an Orlando bar catering to University of Central Florida students, the Governor said.
The Governor mused then about whether bar closures are even effective.
“You have to also be realistic about this and say that if this pub isn’t closed, does that mean this behavior isn’t going on? Because people go and they meet and they congregate.”
“I’m not so naive to think that ‘ok, that’s no longer an option, so they’re just going to sit there and decide not to do any socializing.’ That’s not the way the world works,” DeSantis said.
“A lot of the same socializing was going on, it was just in a private venue,” the Governor continued. “They close this like some panacea and people go on and do other things.”
The Governor, in previous appearances, compared some of the worst offender bars to “just like mayhem, like Dance Party USA, and it’s packed to the rafters,” justifying the order to close bars that don’t have seated restaurant capacity.
DeSantis noted that the three South Florida counties still in Phase 1 reopening have not had bars open, yet have had the most persistent outbreaks, only quelling recently. The Governor noted that he is more likely to move them into Phase 2 before allowing bars to reopen.