Update, June 26, 2020: WPTV reports that Florida officials have banned bars across the state from selling alcohol for “on premises consumption.” The statewide ban is effective immediately. WPTV, a local NBC affiliate, is currently looking into whether this means bars are still permitted to sell alcohol for takeout (which would make it offsite consumption).
The ban comes amid a disastrous Phase Two reopening plan currently underway in 64 Florida counties: this week the state saw a record increase in new COVID-19 cases in a single day (8,942 more cases on Friday versus Thursday, according to WPTV).
Original post, June 18, 2020: One week after Florida entered Phase Two of its grand reopening—bars! movies! tattoos!—several bars have decided to shut down again because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Who didn’t see this coming?
Well, in all fairness, it’s not like the customers who crammed into bars in northern and central Florida wanted to get sick. It’s not like they wanted to get their bartenders and servers sick. They just wanted a drink after three months of being stuck at home!
But after a weekend of a record-breaking number of new COVID-19 cases, at least six bars and restaurants in Jacksonville, site of this year’s Republican National Convention (moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, after the Democrat governor refused to guarantee that social distancing measures would lift by convention time), have had to close again for deep cleaning and employee testing, Action News Jax, the local CBS affiliate, reports.
Among them is Lynch’s Irish Pub in Jacksonville Beach, where 15 customers (all friends) and seven staffers all tested positive for COVID after a June 6 gathering.
Meanwhile, The Independent reports, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is downplaying concerns. “I think it’s important for people to understand who is being tested now compared to who was being tested in March and early April when we had kind of our peaks then,” he said.
FWIW, the number of new cases last weekend was the highest it’s been so far, surpassing March and April.