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Orlando walks back alcohol sales ban at bars, restaurants amid coronavirus

Governor order all bars, nightclubs to close for 30 days; City will follow governor’s executive order

Guests can visit Lake Eola and the surrounding park for free. Swan boat rentals are available along with nearby restaurants.
Guests can visit Lake Eola and the surrounding park for free. Swan boat rentals are available along with nearby restaurants.

ORLANDO, Fla. – On St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday typically celebrated with a pint at a local pub, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said alcohol sales would be banned at bars and restaurants hoping to deter social gatherings amid the growing number of coronavirus cases. However, the city later walked back those restrictions to follow a new order from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordering all bars and nightclubs to close.

Under Dyer’s order, all persons and businesses would be prohibited from selling alcohol for on-site consumption in the entire city of Orlando but moments after the mayor’s announcement Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all bars and nightclubs to close Tuesday night.

The city later issued a statement saying it would follow the governor’s executive order to avoid confusion.

The governor also announced that restaurants must limit their number of patrons to maintain safe distances between diners. Under the governor’s order, restaurants can only operate at half capacity.

“At 5 p.m., per the Governor’s Executive Order, restaurants within the City of Orlando will be allowed to sell alcohol for onsite consumption. Additionally, restaurants must limit their occupancy to 50% of their current building occupancy,” the city’s statement read. “Restaurants should ensure at least a six-foot distance between any groups of patrons and limiting parties to no more than 10 people.”

The mayor said although St. Patrick’s Day is “a day of celebration ... we have to continue to make sacrifices," to flatten the curve of the virus with now more than 185,000 cases worldwide and more than 4,000 deaths.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established new guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 telling people to avoid social gatherings with 10 or more people.

Dyer asked residents to adhere to the CDC recommendations.

Orlando police officials said the governor’s executive order will be enforced by the state not local law enforcement.

There are about 20 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Central Florida, including four in Orange County, according to the Florida Department of Health.

FDOH officials published an interactive map Monday showing Florida coronavirus cases in real time, although the numbers in the database only include the Floridians who were diagnosed in Florida.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter or go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.


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