Florida Suspends Drinking at Bars After Record Number of Coronavirus Infections

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced on Friday that bars will not longer be allow patrons to drink alcohol on their premises

Florida bar
Bar in Florida.

State officials in Florida have banned the consumption of alcohol at bars in the wake of an increase in the number of new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced on Friday it will no longer allow on-premise consumption of alcohol at bars amid the ongoing pandemic.

Halsey Beshears, the secretary of Department of Business and Professional Regulation, later clarified on Twitter that the ban is only limited to bar establishments and "nothing changes for restaurants."

The statewide suspension will only apply to establishments that "derive more than 50 percent of gross revenue" from the sale of alcoholic beverages, according to the new emergency order. Bars will still be permitted to sell alcohol in sealed containers for off-site consumption.

Under Florida's previous emergency orders, bars and restaurants were ordered to run at 50 percent of normal capacity, with patrons sitting at tables at least six feet apart.

However, according Beshears, his department found that too many bars and patrons were breaking the rules when state lifted its stay-at-home restrictions.

“This was more than we could keep up with,” he told Associated Press. “Sadly, 90 percent are getting it right. It’s the other 10% that are ruining it for everybody."

coronavirus restaurants
People dine in Florida as the state reopens.

Beshears said in a statement that the emergency order was made in response to the spike in new coronavirus cases within the state, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

"Based on recent increases in COVID-19 cases and non-compliance with previous orders, (the department) has taken action to suspend on-premises alcohol sales at bars," Beshears said, per the outlet. "(The department) believes this is a necessary step to take to protect public health as we continue working in partnership with industry and health officials to combat COVID-19."

On Friday, the Florida Department of Health recorded 8,942 new coronavirus cases over the course of 24 hours, surpassing the previous single-day high of 5,511 cases that was set earlier in the week.

As of June 26, there have been at least 122,960 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, with 3,366 coronavirus-related deaths, according to state health officials.

Within the United States, there have been at least 2,463,700 coronavirus cases and 124,700 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

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