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Over 100 Florida breweries are in danger of closing permanently in the next two weeks unless the state government can provide much needed aid. After facing closures because of the coronavirus, many bars and breweries have found themselves in dire straits financially. Unless state or federal aid is provided, these businesses say they are at risk of closing indefinitely.
The Florida Brewers Guild shared their concerns in an open letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and Halsey Beshears, the Secretary of the DBPR. But at least one-third of those are in jeopardy of closing if they don’t get some kind of help from the state in the next two weeks, according to the letter sent by the Guild.
Between 2008 and 2016, the number of breweries “expanded by a factor of six, and the number of brewery workers grew by 120 percent,” according to The Atlantic. The industry has boomed for small business owners who offer unique spins on one of the oldest human-made beverages in history. In Florida, as of April of this year, there were over 300 breweries in the state.
The restaurant and bar industry suffered a blow when it was announced that as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, restaurants, bars and breweries were prohibited from selling alcohol in their establishments, unless the bar has a license to serve food. Secretary Beshears ordered places that serve alcohol but not food to suspend on-premises drinking in an effort to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
According to the Florida Brewers Guild, they say their internal polling showed that more than 100 craft brewery owners said they could not sustain their businesses without customers for longer than another two weeks. In their letter to state officials, the Guild said they were not like other drinking establishments because breweries “primarily serve our fans between noon and 8 pm — our core is serving families and small gatherings — we are not nightclubs or your typical bar.” The letter doesn’t specifically say which breweries will close.
Florida’s restaurants, bars and breweries are part of how it makes its revenues. Since tourism to the state has also been stopped, many local businesses are relying on being open to help with the economy. The rule passed by Beshears has been detrimental to the businesses’ ability to stay afloat while closures are happening again. On June 26 Beshears ordered all drinking establishments must suspend selling alcohol to people to drink on-site. On July 17, he reiterated that the directive is not going to change “due to the continuing increase in positivity” of COVID-19 cases in Florida.
Breweries in the Orlando area have found themselves seriously affected. Orlando-based brewery Redlight Redlight has long partnered with food trucks and held family events, as do many area breweries; the food sales requirement is a frustrating clause in the rule.
The breweries have been getting by as best they can with the Paycheck Protection Programs loans, but only did so when they were given back in March.
William is the Managing Editor at FloridaInsider.com. His years of experience in journalism, broadcasting and multimedia include roles as a Writer and Web Producer. He graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science and Communication.