FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – On the Fort Lauderdale beach, those with months of quarantine bar abstinence showed up, showed off and toasted each other to a semblance of normal life.
“I’m fine, I’m strong, and I’m comfortable with all my friends,” said Dan Gibby, who was out enjoying his Saturday at the Elbo Room.
In an unexpected and surprising announcement Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis lifted all restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in Florida in an effort to reopen the state̵
With that green light, bars and clubs were allowed to reopen.
Its three-page executive order also stated that local municipalities cannot limit capacity. It also eliminated any COVID-19 related fines. On Saturday, Florida reported 2,795 new cases of COVID-19, along with 14,022 resident deaths and 168 non-resident deaths from COVID-19.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has more than a few concerns.
“One of the things that worries me most is our mask mandate. I am really worried that the cases will continue to grow and therefore we may have to go back to a situation we are working so hard to avoid. “
He added that the governor’s order is confusing and risky.
“It is not very clear what can and what cannot be done,” Suarez said.
Its counterpart in Fort Lauderdale also weighed.
“Many of us have wondered where will we go from here?” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said. “The governor’s order was so open that the entrepreneurs really didn’t have any direction on what to do.”
Broward County issued a new executive order five hours after the governor, stating that the bars still need to comply with spacing requirements and capacity limits. 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 alcohol, provided that comply with Schedule 2 of the County Emergency Order.
“Just like restaurants, small groups, I think that’s what we mean by bars as well,” Trantalis said.
Both mayors said they expected new regulations in the coming days.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber called DeSantis’ move political and dangerous in South Florida, which had the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases in the state.
“I don’t think anyone in Miami-Dade County knew it was coming,” Gelber said. “I think we were going in the right direction. The governor just wants to follow Trump’s example as much as possible. “
In Davie, Gaffers pub owner Debbie Qualls said the small family-owned business has suffered financially from the pandemic.
“We had to pay the rent, the electricity, all the bills. If it had been too long, we wouldn’t be here,” Qualls said.
The pub has been closed for six months, so reopening is what she calls a lifesaver.
Qualls said, however, that safety remains a priority.
“Everyone is very careful here,” said Bob Vaughn, a regular patron of the Gaffers bar.
Trantalis hopes that people continue to stay aware and stay safe.
“It is no good for anyone – bar owners, bar patrons, the community at large – not to continue to abide by safety protocols.”
(STAY TUNED: Hatzel Vela will have more about what Phase3 means locally on Local 10 News at 11am after the match)
RELATED: See DeSantis’ latest Executive Order, Broward County Emergency Order below:
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