Tampa bars and nightclubs penalized for COVID-19 violations

Five popular Tampa bars and nightclubs are appearing before City Council today after repeated COVID-19 ordinance violations, and at least two well-known bars have already been hit with suspensions.

City attorneys say MacDintons Irish Pub, Club Prana, The Ritz Ybor, Club Skye and King Corona Cigars and Cafe have all been given plenty of opportunities to come into compliance with the city’s ordinance, but code enforcement officials have found they are still consistently in violation.

"We're here again as a last resort. We don't bring these cases after a first citation. In fact, this is the second citation," Assistant City Attorney Susan Johnson-Valdez told council members last month during a hearing for 7th & Grove.

On the line: The businesses could have their liquor licenses suspended for up to 30 days.

So far, officials have issued a three-day suspension to MacDintons while Club Prana received a full-week suspension.

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The owners of 7th & Grove and Purple Heart Bar Lounge & Grill previously convinced council to go easy on them. Instead of being penalized, the businesses were warned, a departure from earlier hearings where both Tangra Nightclub and Ybor Cigars Plus lost the right to sell alcohol for three consecutive days.

Tampa bars penalized for violating COVID-19 safety measures; more hearings to come

Tangra nightclub and Ybor Cigars Plus will both have to shut down for three days next week following what code enforcement officers said were repeated violations, including unmasked patrons crowded inside the establishments.

The hearings have sparked a growing debate among council members: they want businesses to act responsibly and follow the rules, but several say they don’t want to put anyone out of business.

"I’m not here for passing judgment and making people have a hard time and doing that. That’s not my style. But on the other side, what damage are we causing to society?" Councilman Charlie Miranda asked