Florida bans bar alcohol consumption as coronavirus spikes

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A healthcare worker puts a test swab into a vial after testing a passenger at a drive-through coronavirus testing site outside of Hard Rock Stadium, Friday, June 26, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Florida banned alcohol consumption at its bars Friday as its daily confirmed coronavirus cases neared 9,000, a new record that is almost double the previous mark set just two days ago. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida banned alcohol consumption at its bars Friday as its daily confirmed coronavirus cases neared 9,000, a new record that is almost double the previous mark set just two days ago.

The Florida agency that governs bars announced the ban on Twitter just minutes after the Department of Health reported 8,942 new confirmed cases, topping the previous record of 5,500 set Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced he would sign an executive order closing beaches in the county over the Fourth of July weekend.

“I have decided that the only prudent thing to do to tamp down this recent uptick is to crack down on recreational activities that put our overall community at higher risk,” he said in a statement.

State officials have attributed much of the new outbreak to young adults flocking to bars after they reopened in most of the state three weeks ago, with many of them ignoring social distancing restrictions aimed at lowering the virus's spread.

Bars, like restaurants, were supposed to limit patrons to 50% of their normal capacity, under the state's emergency orders. Patrons had to sit at tables, with groups 6 feet (2 meters) apart. No congregating at the bar or on the dance floor was permitted.

The new order prohibits any establishment that makes more than 50% of its revenue from alcohol sales from serving alcohol for consumption on site. Bars are still permitted to sell alcohol in sealed containers for consumption offsite. Restaurants that primarily sell food can still serve alcohol to customers seated at tables.

Business and Professional Regulations Secretary Halsey Beshears said he issued the order because too many bars and patrons were breaking the rules, overwhelming his department’s inspectors.