COVID-19 in Florida: Bar Owners Respond to New On-Premises Alcohol Sale Ban

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Halsey Beshears, secretary of the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR), tweeted a single sentence today that effectively put bars in Florida into a state of suspended animation.

“With immediate effect, the Department of Economics and Professional Law is suspending local alcohol consumption in bars nationwide.”

Shortly thereafter, Beshears tweeted a link to the text of Emergency Ordinance 2020-09, which reversed the aspect of Governor Ron DeSantis’ announcement of the second phase of the state’s reopening on June 3rd, which allowed bars and pubs to open from June 5th Standing occupancy. The Beshears order further clarified that restaurants may continue to operate as they were in Phase Two.

Beshears made it clear in his order that the U-turn was in response to Florida’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

As with the initial implementation of the DeSantis first phase, none of this directly affects Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, which were excluded from the governor’s legal restrictions.

On site, Miami-Dade’s amendment to County Emergency Order 23-20, dated June 8th, remains in effect, which ensures the continued closure of “bars, pubs, nightclubs, cocktail lounges, cabarets and breweries” that are not approved as restaurants.

Today, the Florida Department of Health confirmed nearly 9,000 new COVID-19 cases, with nearly 123,000 confirmed cases to date. Florida’s numbers are rising so fast that the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are demanding 14 days of quarantine for Floridians when traveling to the Northeast – an ironic response to DeSantis’ orders that the same restrictions placed on visitors from those states in March.

The Texas Governor Greg Abbott closed all bars today as well. Abbott also ordered restaurants to reduce their occupancy from 75 percent of capacity to 50 percent. Governor DeSantis’ phase two ordinance that allowed Florida restaurants to operate at full capacity as long as social distancing protocols are followed has not changed. (Like Florida, Texas had quickly reopened only to see a surge in COVID-19 cases.)

The fact that three counties in South Florida have operated by different rules than the rest of the state while still seeing an increase in coronavirus cases seems at first glance that closing bars to counter the increase in To quench infections, putting a plaster on a severed torso to keep a person from bleeding to death is the equivalent of putting on.

Adam Gersten owns Gramps, a bar that has been closed for months. Barley is currently trying to get his restaurant license so he can reopen.

He calls picking bars to fight the pandemic “yet another half-hearted, incomplete, rudderless attempt to do something without doing something about the problem.”

Barley says Beshears’ decision was “very poorly thought out, but in line with the rest of the things the state is doing”.

He notes that the state has had three months to come up with a set of guidelines that would make sense and cover bars and breweries.

“If there were leadership that focused on the right thing, it would take into account the capacity and closeness to other parties. If we applied rigorous science, these would be the factors,” argues Gersten.

Just up the street, J. Wakefield Brewing’s Johnathan Wakefield continues to sell take-away cans of beer. His taproom, which the law regards as a bar, remains closed.

“It is not right that we should be placed in the same category as nightclubs and lounges,” Wakefield told the New Times. Make us familiar with restaurants. “

Wakefield points out that his brewery has food trucks on the premises and has ample outdoor space for social distancing. Nevertheless, his shop remains closed.

Wakefield says, “This whole thing is confusing.”

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Laine Doss is the food and liquor editor for the Miami New Times. It was featured on Eat Street by Cooking Channel and in the Great Food Truck Race by Food Network. She won an Alternative Weekly Award for her contribution on what it’s like to wait for tables.

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