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Florida bar owners and bartenders are planning to protest Gov. Ron DeSantis’coronavirus shutdown, which is keeping their businesses closed while allowing restaurants and gyms to reopen.
Bars and nightclubs were not given the green light to reopen under the state’s “full Phase 1” plan that when into effect Monday. Workers are now questioning why their businesses remain closed, while gyms and restaurants can resume service.
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“We’re being treated unfairly,” bar owner John Russo told FOX13 Tampa. “If you’re over 21, like my sign says, it shouldn’t matter if you’re 6-foot away from someone being served by a server who has a mask and gloves. Whether you’re drinking a Coke or cocktail, what would be the difference?”
The “full Phase 1” of Florida’s reopening plan allowed gyms and fitness centers to reopen at 50 percent capacity, while restaurants, retail, museums and libraries, which already were cleared to reopen earlier this month, could increase capacity to 50 percent.
Customers enjoy sidewalk dinning in Orlando, Florida, Monday as restaurants could open at 50 percent capacity. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Protesters have planned to demonstrate Wednesday in front of the Pinellas County courthouse in Clearwater, with a second protest scheduled in Tampa, the station reported.
Another protest, dubbed “The Ride to Reopen,” will be held Saturday at five bars across Central Florida. It is organized by “Bars R Essential,” a group of local bar owners.
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Two of the organizers, Patti Miracle, owner of the Seaside Tavern in Ormond-by-the-Sea, and her colleague Frank Scott, told FOX35 Orlando that many bar owners in the area don’t sell food or liquor, surviving on revenue from beer and wine sales.
“A lot of the bars that are closed right now, they’re going to struggle to reopen if we don’t get open soon,” Miracle said, describing them as “little mom-and-pop bars.”
A website for the group says it hopes to show that bars are an essential business in their communities. It asks those who come out in support be respectful of social distancing.
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“The big thing now is just to get the bars open so employees can go back to work because that’s all they really want and that’s all we want,” Scott said.