Bars can reopen at 50 percent capacity in Florida starting Monday
ORLANDO, Fla. - Bar owners and workers are getting ready as they will soon be able to reopen in Florida.
The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) announced on Thursday that bars across Florida will be permitted to reopen on Monday, Sept. 14, at 50 percent occupancy.
Bars were ordered to shut down after phase two of reopening took effect in Florida in June. The decision was made after a spike in COVID-19 cases statewide, with many tracing back to residents visiting bars.
Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, bars can once again serve alcohol. Read the full order issued below or view here (PDF).
“It’s time that we take this step, and it’s vital that we start moving forward with this sector of our hospitality industry who have endured one of the toughest paths for sustaining a business during this pandemic,” Halsey Beshears, secretary of the DBPR, said.
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In addition, Governor Ron DeSantis said that he will ease the COVID-19 restrictions on the state's restaurants as well. He believes that the current limitation of 50 percent capacity for indoor dining and requiring that tables be kept six-feet apart seems arbitrary.
Governor DeSantis said there is no evidence 50 percent is better than 70 percent or that six-feet is better than three-feet. He said restaurants will know best how to govern their behavior because they do not want to scare off customers. He gave no specifics on when the restrictions would be eased but said it will be soon.
The Governor added that he wants to make permanent a change that has allowed restaurants to sell carryout alcoholic beverages during the coronavirus pandemic. He believes that "alcohol to go" will help provide a source of revenue for restaurants, which have been forced to scale back their operations during the pandemic. The Florida Legislature would have to change state law to allow it permanently.
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Restaurant owner Caroline Harvey could not be more excited about the reopening of bars, telling FOX 35 that "we’re a restaurant and the bars bring in the people. People have tried to circumvent bars and people really need -- we need the nightlife."
However, some are still concerned that the reopening may cause another spike in COVID-19 cases. Apopka resident Bryce Vastey said that "It's a dumb idea. People are still sick so we shouldn’t be doing it. People want to gather together and that’s probably the best place to do it but it’s not the time."
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.