ORLANDO, Fla. – With coronavirus numbers climbing and cases trending younger, Florida officials made the decision to immediately prohibit the consumption of alcohol at bars statewide -- again.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees alcohol licenses, made the announcement Friday morning on Twitter. No information was offered on how long the moratorium will be in place.
News 6 has asked the department a series of questions about the new order, including whether restaurants can still serve alcohol for on-site consumption and if bars can remain open as long as they only sell to-go alcohol and food on site. This story will be updated when a reply is received.
On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke in Orlando about the recent “explosion” of cases, noting that patients are getting younger as more college-aged Floridians party with their friends.
At that same news conference, DBPR secretary Halsey Beshears said his officers would be going to bars, restaurants and similar establishments each night to check for obvious social distancing, capacity or hygiene violations.
Even before that, a bar near the University of Central Florida had its liquor license suspended after 13 employees and 28 patrons tested positive for COVID-19.
The director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, Dr. Raul Pino, said earlier this week that 152 cases have been linked to an unnamed bar near campus.
Health leaders in Seminole County have also pointed the finger at bars near UCF as “potentially a likely source” for the hot spot located near campus.
Bars, pubs and the like were shut down statewide in mid-March to stop the spread of COVID-19. They remained shuttered during phase one of reopening and only got the green light to open at the beginning of this month as Florida entered phase two.
Although the governor has said that younger patients usually have less severe symptoms or no symptoms at all, officials in Seminole County said that’s not necessarily true since those younger patients are getting diagnosed because they’re going to doctor’s offices to receive treatment for symptoms.
Pino has also said that younger patients, although they have a better survival rate, pose a riskto their older relatives and vulnerable members of the community at large.
Florida reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases statewide Friday. New daily cases have been in the thousands each day this week and have exceeded numbers seen in April and May.