All Florida bars and nightclubs will be closed for the next 30 days, Governor Ron DeSantis said in a press conference Tuesday.
The move comes as more than 200 Florida residents have tested positive for coronavirus.
"You've seen a lot of things about people congregating at some of these things," DeSantis said. "We view that as something that could be problematic for spreading the virus."
The owner of Double Decker, a bar in Ybor, says she understands the reason for the closure and shut the doors to her bar hours before the 5 PM deadline.
"I think it’s a time for everyone to come together and do what's safe and what’s best for everyone," said Simone Walk. "We’re obviously closing down all the bars right now. We’ll see you guys back in 30 days. You know it’s sad it’s Saint Patty's day but we have to do what is safe for everyone.”
Walk says she today is bittersweet to have last call considering it's the bars anniversary.
"14 years ago we opened up this location here in Tampa. Today would be our anniversary. 7 years ago I became an American Citizen on this day," she said. "St. Patty's day is the busiest day of the year but like I said we have to do what's best for everyone."
She says for the time being she plans on taking care of her employees.
Governor Desantis also included guidelines for restaurants, saying Florida will follow the 50% capacity limitations with seating staggered and parties separated by at least six feet. He also encourages patrons to use takeout and delivery services.
DeSantis also said employees should be screened before entering the restaurant to ensure they do not have the virus.
The screening includes obvious signs and symptoms of the virus, like shortness of breath, fever and cough. They are also to ask employees if they have travelled through an airport or on a cruise in the last 14 days or if they came in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
"This is the floor for Florida for the foreseeable future," DeSantis said.
He said local governments can go farther if they see fit, but these are the minimum guidelines.
The Governor is also offering a bridge loan program to certain businesses impacted by closures. They sent a statement:
DEO is currently surveying businesses throughout the state of Florida who have been impacted by COVID-19. Businesses and non-profits can access the Business Damage Assessment survey at FloridaDisaster.BIZ [floridadisaster.biz] Select “COVID-19” from the drop-down menu on the survey page [floridadisaster.biz]. Response to the Business Damage Assessment survey is not an application for assistance. Businesses interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application.
For more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org [floridadisasterloan.org]. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 866-737-7232 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org. The phone line will be answered during regular business hours; all voice mails and emails will be responded to within 24 hours.