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Rule Breaking Leads to Closure

June 26th, 2020 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida bars were allowed to reopen June 5th, three weeks ago Friday, but after the spike in cases, they are now open only for carryout.

Florida restaurants remain open with 50 percent capacity, for now at least.

The announcement that bars were off limits for on site consumption came via tweet, less than an hour after the state announced nearly 9,000 new cases.

A video from a panhandle bar this past weekend shows a large crowd of people dancing, packed in the center of the room.

Bars were supposed to be operating at 50 percent and making room for social distancing, but many broke the rule.

“This is a self inflicted wound in many cases. So the offenders who have not paid attention to the guidelines have caused this to happen,” said Carol Dover, President of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried renewed her call for a statewide mask order, calling the bar closing order too little too late.

“We saw almost 9,000 cases today and that’s seven times higher than when we were first reopening,” said Fried.

The effective closing is another blow for the state’s economy.

May tax collections released Friday showed revenue down $700 million from estimates.

Still, it was a slight improvement from April.

The restaurant association told us the Governor was preparing to loosen restrictions in July until the current spike in cases forced his hand to shut bars.

Potentially restaurants too if the trend continues.

So the association is warning its members, follow the rules or else.

“If they don’t adhere, If they don’t hear what he is saying now, restaurants are next, and I got that straight from them. So we better pay attention. It’s 50 percent and not every table next to each other,” said Dover.

A capital city bar owner told us the order will only send his customers to the restaurant next door, creating a recipe for bankruptcy.

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