Thursday 21 May 2020

Florida Bar Owners Will Protest State’s Lockdown Orders: ‘We’re Being Treated Unfairly’

Florida bar owners have mounted protests in response to the state’s lockdown orders, arguing that it’s unfair Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed for gyms and restaurants to reopen but not their places of business.
“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,” reports Fox News.
Protests are planned for Wednesday in Clearwater and Tampa. Another motorcylce-based protest is scheduled for Saturday at five bars in Central Florida titled, “The Ride to Reopen.” Bar owners say the seemingly arbitrary reopening orders mean they are being subject to a different standard, even though their businesses are similar to those now allowed to serve customers.
“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?”
Patti Miracle, owner of the Seaside Tavern told FOX35 Orlando said that bars will struggle to stay in business if they don’t reopen soon.
“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.
Bars in other states have protested the lockdown orders by just opening up shop and dealing with the potential consequences. In New York last weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to forcefully shutdown establishments in violation of his stay-at-home order. He was responding to viral photos of city residents flouting social distancing measures by huddling in close in bars and restaurants without masks. The bars reopened after the city relaxed social distancing enforcement amid a spate of violent arrests that sparked outrage for being predominantly against people of color.
“We’re not going to tolerate people starting to congregate. It’s as simple as that,” the mayor said, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.  “If we have to shut places down, we will.”
“If you start to form groups of people and then two, three, five and then it becomes six, it becomes 10, it becomes 15 — that violates what we’re saying about social distancing and that puts lives in danger,” he added.
To stay afloat, restaurants and other businesses have enacted COVID-19 surcharges to make up for the lost income.
In March, the National Restaurant Association predicted that 11% of restaurants could be closing permanently. Hudson Riehle, the Association’s senior vice president of research, said the data shows the industry is in “uncharted territory.”
“Association research found that 54% of operators made the switch to all off-premises services; 44% have had to temporarily close down. This is uncharted territory,” said Riehle. “The industry has never experienced anything like this before.”

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