ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Florida and around downtown St. Petersburg is causing some restaurants and bars there to shut down less than two weeks after the state gave bars the all-clear to reopen.
While some businesses make it clear, they're closing due to staff members testing positive for COVID-19, others are taking proactive steps, shutting down so they can deep clean or test employees to avoid potential new cases.
"Social distancing is definitely in place," said Toby Rau, visiting St. Pete for Cincinnati. "You can see the bar stools are set six feet apart and there are empty tables if they're too close."
Over the weekend, The Galley, Park and Rec, and Avenue Eat & Drink closed after staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Tuesday, Jannus Live announced it's temporarily closing its Pelican Pub, The Landing and Detroit Liquors after a worker tested positive. They're deep cleaning and postponing Friday's concert "in light of the most recent spike downtown."
It's that spike that now has Hawkers Asian Street Fare temporarily closed for cleaning as "a purely preemptive precaution."
Trophy Fish did the same last Friday night, reopening to customers on Saturday.
"It speaks highly of the owners and the management obviously to keep everybody safe, especially their employees," said Monica Rau. "We have a choice. They really don't have a choice. They have to go to work."
Tuesday night, COPA in downtown St. Pete announced that it too would be temporarily closing dine-in service due to the spike in cases to allow all staff to be screened and tested for COVID-19.
"In the long run, it's probably better to be keeping things clean and making sure that it's a healthy environment for people to come back in a time where everything has been really crazy," said Kaitlyn Bodnar. Businesses are closely tracking the positive case numbers, which can be narrowed down by zip code on the state's COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard. You can see 33712, east of downtown St. Pete, is colored darker blue on the map with 200 reported cases. Nearby 33705 reports 175. Just across the skyway, 34221 in the Palmetto area is also darkened. 34208, east of downtown Bradenton is lit up in red with 331 positives.
"The restaurants are making decisions to keep their people safe and I think that's great," Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
DeSantis went on to say he'd leave the decision of whether or not to mandate face coverings and masks up to the businesses, themselves.
If you'd like to search for your zip code, you can find it at Florida's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard. Scroll to the bottom and click on the fourth tab from the left that reads "Cases by zip code."
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to email@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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