Gov. DeSantis: Florida bars, breweries can reopen Monday at 50% capacity

Governor Ron DeSantis announced bars in Florida will reopen on Monday -- but they must do so at half capacity.

At the end of June, the state forced bars, pubs and breweries that don't serve food to close down, causing some business to shut down for good. 

On Thursday evening, the secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced that DeSantis rescinded the DBPR Amended Emergency Order, which means bars and other alcoholic beverage vendors may resume sales of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises on Monday, as long as they comply with the parameters of Phase 2 of the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s recovery.

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That means bars are allowed to open with indoor capacity capped at 50%. All indoor customers may be seated and, if there is appropriate social distancing, outdoor seating is allowed. 

“In meetings with hundreds of owners of bars and breweries across the state, I’ve heard their stories of struggle, and I’ve observed their serious commitment to making health and safety a continuing priority in their businesses,” said DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears. “It’s time that we take this step, and it’s vital that we start moving forward with this sector of our hospitality industry who have endured one of the toughest paths for sustaining a business during this pandemic.”

The decision comes two months after bars and breweries were forced to shutter their doors for a second time during the pandemic

Back in March, on St. Patrick's Day, Florida closed all bars, but some breweries eventually reopened, specifically the ones that serve food or have a food truck on property.

On June 3, DeSantis announced phase two of reopening the state could begin, and bars were allowed to reopen -- but it was shortlived.

When coronavirus cases began surging in the Sunshine State, mainly among young adults, a short tweet from Halsey Beshears, secretary of the state's Department of Business & Professional Regulation, read that on-site consumption of alcohol must be suspended. At that point, bars had only reopened for a couple of weeks.

Since then, bars and breweries had to find ways to survive. Many had to seek food-service licenses in order to operate as a restaurant and reopen their doors at 50% capacity. 

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A week ago, DeSantis met with brewery and bar owners in Pinellas County, right in downtown St. Pete where it is usually bustling with craft-beer lovers. 

The owners explained to the governor that while they have seen an uptick in customers, they still said they were facing challenges, were ready to reopen.

Also on Thursday, DeSantis said he plans to ease restaurant restrictions soon.

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 responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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