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Tampa City Council suspends alcohol licenses at two local bars for COVID-19 code violations

alcoholic drinks at a bar
Posted at 7:23 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 19:33:13-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa City Council held a hearing Thursday, where they considered revoking or suspending the alcohol licenses at three local bars.

It's part of a citywide crackdown on reckless behavior, targeting repeat violators of the mask mandate.

On Thursday, council members planned a hearing for MacDinton's Irish Pub, Tangra Nightclub, and Ybor Cigars Plus.

City officials say each bar has got a warning and at least two citations before their hearing was called.

Legal representation for MacDinton's Irish Pub asked the council for a continuance of their hearing, which the Tampa City Council ultimately granted, after the attorney for MacDinton's argued neither she nor the company had received notice of Thursday's hearing. Tampa's city attorney argued that two notices had been sent, although the city had not gotten receipt of the notices, so the city council granted a continuance to March 8th.

Tampa City Council then moved on to the hearing for Tangra Nightclub.

The council heard from two Tampa Code Enforcement officers who provided photographic evidence and statements about the lack of mask-wearing on several occasions at the club.

These are photos taken on December 19th and December 26th by code enforcement:

Crowds at Tangra Nightclub on December 19th
Crowds at Tangra Nightclub on December 19th
Crowds at Tangra Nightclub on December 26th

Tampa City Council ultimately voted to suspend Tangra Nightclub's alcohol license for 3 days, March 25th, 26th, and 27th. It's their "punishment" so-to-speak for violating the mask ordinance. The city will then give the club 90 days to come into compliance with city code.

After the hearing for Tangra Nightclub, council moved on to the hearing for Ybor Cigars Plus, which was also warned and cited twice for mask wearing violations before ultimately being forced into a hearing with the Tampa City Council.

But after an hours-long meeting, Ybor Cigars Plus and their legal council decided to forego the hearing and take the same three-day punishment as Tangra Nightclub. Council agreed and decided to suspend the alcohol license at Ybor Cigars Plus on February 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. The city will then give the club 90 days to come into compliance with the city code.

“We’re not doing this cause we’re against bars and pubs in Ybor. We support the bars and pubs in Ybor. But everybody has to pull together on this for the health and safety of our community. That’s what this is all about,” said Tampa City Council Member John Dingfelder.

Coming up on Monday, the council is planning to also review the alcohol licenses at The Ritz Ybor, 7th and Grove, Purple Heart Bar and Grill, and Club Prana. Then on March 8th, they plan to review the alcohol license at MacDinton's Irish Pub.

City code enforcement officials noted they have given out hundreds of warnings to local businesses for code violations, but of all of the businesses in the city, around 90 percent of them have moved to comply with local orders, so they know it can be done.