FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – On Fort Lauderdale beach, those with months of quarantined bar removal showed up, showed up and roasted to a semblance of normal life.
“I’m healthy, I’m strong and I feel comfortable with all of my friends,” said Dan Gibby, who was enjoying his Saturday at the Elbo Room.
In an unexpected and surprising announcement on Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis lifted all restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in Florida in a bid to reopen the state’s economy despite the spread of the coronavirus.
With this green light, bars and clubs were allowed to reopen.
Its three-page executive decree also said that local municipalities cannot limit capacity. It also removed all fines related to COVID-19. Florida reported 2,795 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, as well as 14,022 resident deaths and 168 non-resident deaths from COVID-19.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has more than a few worries.
“One of the things that concerns me most is our mask mandate. I am really concerned that the cases will continue to escalate and that we may have to return to a situation that we are working so hard to avoid.
He added that the governor’s order is confusing and risky.
“It’s not clear what can and cannot be done,” Suarez said.
His Fort Lauderdale counterpart also weighed in.
“A lot of us are wondering where do we go from here?” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said. “The governor’s order was so open that business owners really had no guidelines on what to do.”
Broward County issued a new executive order five hours after the governor, which says bars must still comply with distancing requirements and capacity limitations. The order allows bars, pubs, nightclubs, adult entertainment establishments, banquet halls, breweries, cigar bars and any other establishment authorized by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations to sell food and / or of alcohol to operate, provided they are in accordance with Attachment 2 of the County Emergency Order.
“Just like restaurants, small groups – I think that’s what we’re planning for bars as well,” Trantalis said.
The two mayors said they expected new regulations in the coming days.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber called DeSantis’ move political – and insecure in South Florida, which has had the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases in the state.
“I don’t think anyone in Miami-Dade County knew this was going to happen,” Gelber said. “I think we are going in the right direction. The governor just wants to follow Trump’s lead as much as possible.
In Davie, Gaffers pub owner Debbie Qualls said the small family business had suffered financially from the pandemic.
“We had to pay the rent, the electricity, all the bills. If it was too long, we wouldn’t be here, ”Qualls said.
The pub was closed for six months, so its reopening is what she calls a lifeline.
Qualls, however, said security remained a priority.
“Everyone is very careful here,” said Bob Vaughn, regular at Gaffers bar.
Trantalis hopes people will continue to be aware and stay safe.
“There’s no point – bar owners, bar patrons, the community at large – not to continue to adhere to safety protocols.
(Stay tuned: Hatzel Vela will have more on what Phase3 means locally on Local 10 News at 11 a.m. after the game)
RELATED: See DeSantis’ Latest Executive Order, Broward County Emergency Order below:
Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.