After many establishments were closed for months amid the coronavirus pandemic, Florida’s top business regulator believes bar and craft-brewery owners will do a better job this time of self-enforcing state safety restrictions.

But Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said Wednesday his agency won’t go easy on bars and breweries that violate rules such as indoor occupancy limits.

State officials sounded the foghorn Monday to let bars serve on-premise alcohol again, but for many Florida establishments, it wasn’t much of a change. Bars throughout Leon County have been using a workaround that allowed them to operate as restaurants.

After a state-wide shutdown, bars were allowed to reopen early in June, but that didn’t last long. State officials said too many people were gathering in large groups and weren’t following social distancing guidelines. They limited bars to serving alcohol only for off-premise consumption. Then officials made another change.


The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation removed its statewide ban on bars, but in Palm Beach County, restrictions will remain in place.

The county’s step-by-step approach to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan allows county commissioners to consider spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Orange Co. Mayor Prepared To Shut Down Bars If They Lead To Outbreaks

Sep 14, 2020
bar scene
Patrick Tomasso

Ahead of bars reopening on Monday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said most owners will follow health safety protocols in order to remain open.

But Demings said special agents from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation along with Orange County strike teams will work weekends to monitor them just in case.

Adults who tested positive for the coronavirus were about twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant within a two-week period prior to becoming sick, according to a new study from Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

The study looked at 314 adults who had showed symptoms of COVID-19 and had sought testing at one of 11 facilities across 10 states in July. Of the participants, 154 tested positive for COVID-19, while 160 tested negative and served as a control group.

beer taps behind bar
News Service of Florida

Florida bars can open the taps again Monday.

Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears announced Thursday he was rescinding an emergency order that prevented onsite consumption of alcohol at bars amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hot dogs, cold sandwiches and Hot Pockets admittedly aren’t fancy fare.

But low-budget, hassle-free cuisine might be a financial godsend for desperate bar owners who’ve been sidelined for months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tavern owners throughout the state hurriedly are rehabbing behind-the-counter operations, adding triple sinks, carving out prep areas and signing up for food-handling training so they can get the go-ahead from state regulators to turn the lights back on.

Governor Ron DeSantis talked with local brewery owners Thursday in St. Petersburg about their business struggles due to the coronavirus pandemic, and their prospects for fully reopening.

"We started out down 70 to 75 percent in the middle of all of this. We are down less than half now," said Mike Harting, who runs Three Daughters Brewing.

"That confidence is definitely coming back in the consumer," he said.

The pandemic has altered what it means to run a small business, especially in the restaurant industry. South Florida restaurant owners are trying to maintain business while figuring out how to keep their workers and customers safe. One of those owners is Carlos Gazitua.

He grew up watching his grandmother and mother run Sergio’s, the popular Cuban restaurant chain. Now as CEO, he’s facing unique challenges.

“One of the things that they’ve never seen — my grandmother, my mother — was a pandemic,” Gazitua said.

Your Favorite Store Or Restaurant Is Open: How Do You Know It's OK To Go In?

Aug 11, 2020
Masked restaurant worker
Dapiki Moto / Unsplash

Just because many businesses are open again doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. The coronavirus is still on the loose — actually surging in many locations — which means people have to make serious choices about their health all day, every day.

Restaurant doors are cautiously opening again in Texas, but nothing is quite the same with the continuing threat of the pandemic. Eateries have had to get creative to survive, and learn how to protect their customers and staff.

Jerry Morales is the amiable, animated owner of Gerardo's Casita, in Midland, Texas. With menus in hand, he greets customers who are just venturing out after seven long weeks of quarantine.

"Y'all been doing alright, staying safe?" he asks.

Restaurants Differ On What Reopening Should Look Like

May 15, 2020

While Governor Ron DeSantis is now allowing indoor seating up to 25 percent capacity at restaurants individual owners are taking different steps to make sure their employees and customers stay safe. WFSU spoke with restaurant owners around Tallahassee to see what they’re doing.

When the governor loosened restrictions on restaurants Uptown Café co-owner Nic Tedio decided they’d open their doors for people to dine-in.

On Monday, restaurants in Florida were allowed to welcome diners back into their restaurants at 25 percent occupancy indoors, and outdoors at widely spaced seating, to ensure social distancing.

Diners are returning to Tampa Bay area restaurants for sit-down service now that the state is letting them reopen with limited capacity.

Servers and other employees won’t be counted toward limits on occupancy when restaurants reopen Monday under coronavirus guidelines, the state’s top business regulator said.

Bill Would Require Most Pets To Be Kept Out Of Restaurants

Oct 2, 2019

Most four-legged patrons of pet-friendly restaurants would have to remain outside, under a bill proposed this week by state Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando.