ORLANDO, Fla. – With coronavirus numbers climbing and cases trending younger, Florida officials made the decision to immediately prohibit the consumption of alcohol at bars statewide -- again.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees alcohol licenses, made the announcement Friday morning on Twitter. No information was offered on how long the moratorium will be in place.
“Noncompliance by bars and other vendors licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises is suspected throughout the state to such a degree as to make individualized enforcement efforts impractical and insufficient at this time,” DBPR’s executive orders reads.
Restaurants will still be able to serve alcohol on site and bars will still be allowed to sell to-go alcohol, according to the order.
“When people follow the guidelines, we have not had any problems,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide.— Florida DBPR (@FloridaDBPR) June 26, 2020
DeSantis’ comments came in a news conference in Ft. Myers on Friday, where he said there have been problems with people keeping socially distant at bars, increasing the chances of coronavirus infection.
“The reason why DBPR took it is because you had people that weren’t following it, and there was widespread noncompliance, and that led to issues,” he said.
At a news conference in Orlando earlier in the week, DBPR secretary Halsey Beshears said his officers would be going to bars, restaurants and similar establishments each night to check for obvious social distancing, capacity or hygiene violations.
Even before that, a bar near the University of Central Florida had its liquor license suspended after 13 employees and 28 patrons tested positive for COVID-19.
The director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, Dr. Raul Pino, said earlier this week that 152 cases have been linked to an unnamed bar near campus.
Health leaders in Seminole County have also pointed the finger at bars near UCF as “potentially a likely source” for the hot spot located near campus.
Bars, pubs and the like were shut down statewide in mid-March to stop the spread of COVID-19. They remained shuttered during phase one of reopening and only got the green light to open at the beginning of this month as Florida entered phase two.
Although the governor has said that younger patients usually have less severe symptoms or no symptoms at all, officials in Seminole County said that’s not necessarily true since those younger patients are getting diagnosed because they’re going to doctor’s offices to receive treatment for symptoms.
Pino has also said that younger patients, although they have a better survival rate, pose a risk to their older relatives and vulnerable members of the community at large.
Florida reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases statewide Friday. New daily cases have been in the thousands each day this week and have exceeded numbers seen in April and May.
Check back for more updates on the developing story.