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State Suspends Alcohol Consumption At Bars 'Effective Immediately'

File photo of people drinking beer
Mark Lennihan
Associated Press
File photo

Friday the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) announced it is suspending drinking alcohol at bars, "effectively immediately."

The announcement was posted in a short tweet.

Credit Michelle Corum / WJCT News
This sign was flashing at a Jacksonville pub in Mandarin Friday as the state was announcing a ban on alcohol at bars.

WJCT News partner News4Jax reported that according to a copy of the order, bars can continue to serve alcohol in sealed containers for consumption offsite.

The order does not apply to restaurants that serve alcohol, so long as less than 50% of their revenue comes from sales of alcohol for consumption on site.

The action by DBPR secretary Halsey Beshears came as the Florida Department of Health on Friday reported 8,942 more coronavirus cases, breaking the record for a one-day increase of 5,511 cases set Wednesday. Since the pandemic began, 122,960 people have tested positive in the state, and 3,366 Florida residents have died, an increase of 39 deaths from Thursday. 

The DBPR announcement follows Gov. Ron DeSantis saying Florida isn’t ready for the next phase of his effort to reinvigorate the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We never anticipated necessarily doing anything different in terms of the next phase at this point anyways,” DeSantis said Thursday during a bill-signing event in Tampa.

“We are where we are. Obviously, South Florida is where they are. I think the main thing is just for folks to look, in May, if you remember end of April, May all the way through, you know coronavirus was relatively quiet in Florida.

You had manageable cases. Our positivity rate was 4 or 5 percent consistently.” But since the Memorial Day weekend, positive cases have grown, with more than 5,000 reported Thursday to push the state’s total to 114,000 cases since March.

DeSantis has resisted calls to issue a statewide requirement for people to wear masks but urged people to follow health guidelines, which include social distancing, avoiding crowds, hand washing and wearing masks in public.

“I'm confident that people, if you follow guidelines, if you follow the instructions from the local and the state and the federal officials, you know, you can do things in a low-risk way,” DeSantis said. After many businesses were shut down or dramatically scaled back at the end of March to prevent spread of the virus, most of the state entered the first phase of DeSantis’ reopening plan on May 4, which allowed restaurants and retail stores outside of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties to operate with outdoor seating and 25 percent indoor capacity.

The phase let hospitals and doctors resume providing elective medical procedures.

Later, the occupancy limit was bumped to 50 percent, gyms, barber shops and hair salons were allowed to open, and the South Florida counties - which have been virus hotspots - were able to take part.

In early June, the second phase started in all but South Florida. In part, bars and movie theaters were allowed to operate with limited indoor seating capacity.