A spokeswoman for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) said Monday it’s still uncertain when bars and breweries can again serve alcohol for onsite consumption. DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears has been meeting privately with brewers and bar owners over the past few weeks to discuss concerns about widespread shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Following the recent meetings with representatives of bars and breweries across the state, Secretary Beshears is reviewing feedback and ideas from these business owners and considering options for a sensible plan forward,” DBPR spokeswoman Karen Smith said in an email Monday. “While no timeframe for reopening is certain, Secretary Beshears understands the urgency advocated by business owners in these recent meetings.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday the state isn’t changing a decision last month to reimpose a ban on bars selling alcohol for on-site consumption because of widespread non-compliance with coronavirus safety measures.
“So, right now, we’re not making any changes, status quo,” DeSantis said while at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton. “We want to get this positivity rate down. We want to continue to, you know, hopefully see declining COVID-like illness visits at the (emergency departments). And then as we get in a more stable situation, then we’ll take a look at it.”
A group of bar owners filed a lawsuit July 3 against DeSantis in Volusia County circuit court over the ban on on-site drink sales, arguing it has effectively forced businesses to close.
Attorney Jacob Weil, representing one of the bar owners, told WESH in Orlando the order unfairly discriminates against bars, as establishments that serve food in conjunction with alcohol are able to remain open.
“All these bar owners are asking for is to be treated the same as the other similar restaurants and establishments that are being allowed to serve alcohol for on-premises consumption,” Weil told the television station.