Florida bans consumption of alcohol at bars as COVID-19 cases soar past record

The state announced 8,942 news cases on Friday, up from the previous record of 5,508 set Wednesday


St. George Tavern bartender Jill Rodgers pours a beer for a customer in the St. Augustine bar in the first week of June. After three weeks under Phase Two, Florida is halting on-premises alcohol consumption at bars as a measure to stem the coronavirus pandemic. Image: Peter Willott/St. Augustine Record via TNS

Orlando Sentinel
By Austin Fuller

Florida regulators banned drinking alcohol at bars as the state reported a record-shattering 8,942 new cases of coronavirus Friday.

“Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide,‘' according to a tweet from Halsey Beshears, secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

The department could not be immediately reached for further details.

The Department of Health reported the soaring positive cases at nearly the same time that Beshears sent out the tweet. The previous record for a single-day increase of 5,508 cases was reported Wednesday. The agency also reported 33 additional deaths to bring the toll to 3,366.

The decision comes just three days after Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to crack down on bars and not restaurants not following social-distancing rules.

If you go in and it’s just like mayhem, like ‘Dance Party USA’ and it’s packed to the rafters, that’s just cut and dry and that’s not just an innocent mistake,” DeSantis said Tuesday at a news conference at Orlando Health. “No tolerance for that. Just suspend the license, and then we’ll move on.”

On Monday night, the state suspended the alcohol license at the Knight’s Pub near the University of Central Florida after 41 customers and employees tested positive for the virus.

The governor only opened bars again on June 3, with an executive order that allowed them to operate at 50% capacity inside and serving only seated customers.

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