State agents could be going undercover into businesses not following guidelines

Agents under the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to increase enforcement

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations has already increased enforcement statewide of restaurants and bars not complying with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Phase 2 guidelines conducting both routine and complaint-based inspections, according to a department spokesperson.

“The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is operating under an increased statewide enforcement effort with emphasis on monitoring restaurants and bars for compliance with the parameters of Phase 2,” said Karen Smith, DBPR’s Director of Communication. “The Department’s inspectors and law enforcement agents are maintaining an enhanced, daily field presence in licensed establishments and will conduct both routine and complaint-based inspections on a schedule that includes weekdays and weekends.”

This comes after DBPR’s Secretary Halsey Beshears announced in Orlando Tuesday that he suspended the liquor license of an Orange County bar.

The only businesses to have it’s license suspended during the pandemic, according to the department.

“We have pulled their liquor license last night,” Beshears said Tuesday. “I have contacted local sheriff’s and we are going to continue to do that to the state.”

Sheriff John Mina said he did get the call from Secretary Beshears.

“Yes, I have had a conversation with Secretary Beshears,” Sheriff Mina said Thursday. “He wanted to know if we were aware of any bars or nightclubs that were not complying. What he said to me is ‘What we want you to do is if you get a complaint or if your deputy sees some of that activity going on,’ he said they would follow up.”

Sheriff Mina said his deputies will not be the ones enforcing as that will be in the jurisdiction of the Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco division under DBPR.

“I have worked with ABT before,” Sheriff Mina said. “They have a lot more powers when it comes to the regulatory things that can be done to businesses with liquor licenses. A lot of times they will go in and do the undercover stings.”'

In fact, Smith with the DBPR said many agents will be in plain clothes when inspecting.

“DBPR sworn agents are generally in plain clothes but display and/or provide their credentials when performing inspections. They sometimes wear their full uniforms or operate undercover, depending on the needs of a particular operation. The non-sworn investigation specialists wear the DBPR polo,” she said.

Citizens can report concerns regarding the compliance of a restaurant or bar with the operating requirements applicable during Phase 2 of the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. plan for Florida’s Recovery on our website at: DBPR Compliance Concerns Form.

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