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Florida is suspending drinking at bars. Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the Department of Business & Professional Regulation, tweeted on Friday, June 26, “Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide.” This comes right after the Florida Department of Health reported the highest single-day spike in new COVID-19 cases yet.
The rule applies only to bars, so restaurants that serve alcohol can remain open.
With the suspension of the serving and consumption of alcohol in bars across the state comes some ground rules that have been set in place until further notice:
- All establishments that derive more than 50 percent of gross revenue from the sales of alcoholic beverages are ordered to suspend such sales for consumption on the premises.
- Those bars and pubs can continue to sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for consumption off the premises.
- Establishments that are licensed food service places, deemed “restaurants” under the Florida statute, can continue to serve food and drinks on site as long as they derive 50 percent or less of gross revenue from the sales of alcoholic beverages.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis has announced there will be penalties for businesses that do not follow the state’s reopening guidelines. He said Florida bars and restaurants could lose their liquor license if they skirt the state’s rules.
The city of Tampa has received 14 complaints since June 22. Beshears told a local Tampa news station he had already received 106 complaints from across the state, all having to do with restaurants and bars breaking the rules. Many complaints from the Tampa Bay area allege bars aren’t following proper social distancing. As a result, many bars and restaurants run the risk of being shut down completely.
Image by Amber Avalona from Pixabay
The order makes it clear, however, that the establishments (bars) can still sell alcohol in to-go containers. Restaurants that do not rely on alcohol sales for a majority of their revenue may still serve seated customers alcohol at their tables. No one may openly drink an alcoholic beverage at a bar. Those that are seen doing so will be asked to leave and fined
The suspension of sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises “for all vendors licensed for such sale who derive more than 50 percent of gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages,” the Department of Business and Professional Regulation said in a news release.
“Notwithstanding this suspension of sales for on-premises consumption, these vendors may continue to sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for consumption off the premises.”
The decision to suspend all alcohol activity was due to the record-breaking spike in new COVID-19 cases in a single day for Florida (8,942 reported) on Friday, June 26. The previous record of 5,508 reported Wednesday, June 24. This hike in new cases of coronavirus on Friday is 62% over Wednesday’s total cases. Florida’s total number of novel coronavirus cases stands at 122,960, more than double the June 10 report (56,960) and more than it did from the start of the pandemic in March through the end of May (56,163).