Florida suspending any alcohol consumption at bars statewide due to rise in COVID-19 cases

From Tampa Bay Times

Florida is suspending the drinking of alcohol at bars, according to a tweet from Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the Department of Business & Professional Regulation.

The move comes as Florida on Friday announced a record-breaking number of coronavirus cases.

It also comes just days after Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to pull the liquor licenses of bars that didn’t follow the state’s re-opening guidelines.

“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. That’s not just an innocent mistake,” DeSantis said.

He also said businesses that were clearly out of compliance with state rules could count on a visit from Beshears, whom DeSantis called “the grim reaper for business licenses.”

Beshears’ office made an example this week out of The Knight’s Pub in Orlando, suspending the establishment’s liquor license. In Florida, which has a quota on the number of licenses it hands out, that’s a stiff punishment.

The office justified the suspension by noting The Knight’s Pub had repeatedly flouted social distancing rules, packing the bar with patrons. More than 40 employees and patrons tested positive for coronavirus after frequenting the bar, according to local media reports.

In a statement, Michael D’Esposito, owner of The Knight’s Pub, blasted the state’s move.

“Yesterday’s false accounts of irresponsible business practices and the circulation of photos from 2019 to mislead the public in the time of COVID-19 are reckless and dangerous,” D’Esposito said, noting his establishment was open for just three days earlier this month. “Despite our limited reopening that was encouraged by our political leaders, our establishment is now being used as the scapegoat for all COVID-19 cases in the surrounding Orlando area.”

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