ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is getting slammed on social media after he said he was misquoted about bars reopening.
Dyer suggested that it could be months before local bars would reopen during an interview with ABC News on Tuesday.
“I’m very sympathetic to the bars that are in the most difficult situation,” Mayor Dyer said, acknowledging how difficult it’s been for bar owners to keep their door shut indefinitely. “I think they’re in a very, very difficult situation. Certainly, having a vaccine would be in everybody’s best interest, especially the bars.”
We asked the mayor if he believes bars should remain closed until there is a coronavirus vaccine, as some have reported.
“No. I’m not saying that at all. I would like a statewide application. I would rather that it’s not city-by-city and county-by-county in terms of what the procedures will be. If they can safely open, I would love for them to open,” Mayor Dyer said, clarifying what was misquoted in several headlines.
Dyer stressed to reporters that it’s up to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Secretary Halsey Beshears, the head of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, to decide when to allow bars to reopen.
“They need to come up with procedures that will keep people safe. The whole idea is for us to stop the spread of the virus," Dyer said.
The state has ordered bars to stay closed for an indefinite amount of time, which has been difficult for bar owners. Ryan Davis, the owner of Stagger Inn, said with no money coming in, his bar still has to pay rent, power, and insurance.
“That’s the most frustrating part. If they told us that January 1 we’ll be back open, then I could turn the power off take a vacation and get back at it. Right now, we’re just waiting and waiting and spending more money not letting things go bad and get out of hand just to stay alive,” Davis said.
Since the pandemic began, a handful of businesses in Downtown Orlando have shut down for good. Davis expects more will be added to the list if bars are not allowed to re-open soon. FOX 35 News asked Mayor Dyer if the city has a plan in place to prevent the heart of the city from crumbling.
“Well, we’re going to have to see what it looks like post-COVID. We don’t know how long COVID is going to be with you. I don’t expect getting back to normal until next year some time,” he said.
Like many other downtown bar owners, Davis said he is toying with the idea of getting creative and getting a food license so he could reopen Stagger Inn. He would also like to get invited to one of these meetings that Secretary Beshears is hosting with bar and brewery owners in different cities across the state.
"Help us how to figure out how to get the place back open. I’ll meet with anybody, any time and figure whatever we need to figure it out and we’ll 'follow it to a T'," Davis said.