Florida bans bar alcohol consumption as coronavirus cases spike (Excerpt)
Steve Patrick, Corley Peel, Jenese Harris
June 28, 2020
Florida banned alcohol consumption at its bars Friday after its daily confirmed coronavirus cases neared 9,000, a new record that is almost double the previous mark set just two days ago.
The Florida agency that governs bars announced the ban on Twitter just minutes after the Department of Health reported 8,942 new confirmed cases, far surpassing the state’s previous record of 5,500 set Wednesday.
The executive order – issued Friday by Halsey Beshears, secretary for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation – takes effect immediately.
On Saturday morning, Beshears followed the department’s announcement in a Tweet, saying “We must forcefully flatten the curve.”
We must forcefully flatten the curve. This decision was not a knee jerk reaction, nor was it made lightly, but based on evidence and the correlation in spikes after phase 2 reopening. We will get it right, then get people back to work ASAP.
According to a copy of the order, bars can continue to serve alcohol in sealed containers for consumption offsite. The order does not apply to restaurants that serve alcohol, so long as less than 50% of their revenue comes from sales of alcohol for consumption on site.
Restaurants were allowed to reopen at 50% inside and no limits at outdoor seating under Phase 2 reopening. But Florida’s COVID-19 cases continued to jump on Friday, with 8,942 additional positive infections. That surpassed the previous record of 5,500 set on Wednesday. That number is five times more than where the state record stood two weeks ago. The department had not updated its death total, which still stood at 3,327.
State officials have attributed much of the new outbreak to young adults flocking to bars after they reopened in most of the state about a month ago, with many of them ignoring social distancing restrictions aimed at lowering the virus’s spread.
The move to halt sales is once again making life difficult for bar owners in the Nation’s Oldest City, which on Friday became the first city in Northeast Florida to require masks in buildings that are open to the public.
Isabela Alonso, who owns Isabela’s Bar Cuba in St. Augustine, said business was just starting to pick back up.
“Its going to be bad for me. The business was beginning to do better, and unfortunately, I have a husband at home and all the money that I make is through here,” Alonso said.
Closer look at the numbers
More than 24,000 new cases have been reported since Saturday, more than a fifth of the 111,724 cases confirmed since March 1. The department had not updated its death total, which still stood at 3,327.
The seven-day average for positive tests dropped slightly to 13.4%, down 1 percentage point from Thursday but still triple the rate of 3.8% of June 1.
Florida’s record-setting week for newly confirmed coronavirus cases got even worse with almost 9,000 reported Friday, nearly double the just-set mark and five times more than where the state record stood two weeks ago.
More than 24,000 cases have been reported since Saturday, more than a fifth of the 111,724 cases confirmed since March 1. The department had not updated its death total, which still stood at 3,327.
The end of on-site alcohol sales in Florida also came hours after Texas’ governor shut down all bars in the state and scaled back restaurant dining in a state that is also seeing a surge in cases.
Bar owners say Gov. DeSantis is sending ‘mixed messages’ with new order that limits alcohol sales