Sep 11, 2020 - Health

Florida bars can reopen next week at 50% capacity

Ron DeSantis sits at a red cloth table with a name tag in front of him

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at Florida State University on Aug. 11. Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Bars across Florida will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity next week, state officials announced late Thursday.

Why it matters: The number of daily cases in Florida has consistently decreased since reaching peak-levels in July, although fewer tests have been administered, per the COVID Tracking Project. Hospitalizations have also declined since late July.

  • The state averaged 2,531 infections per day over the past week, per the New York Times — a 24% decrease from two weeks ago.
  • Yes, but: The state recorded 213 new deaths on Thursday, the highest daily total in more than three weeks, per AP. Most states report COVID-19 deaths within 10 days, per the CDC.

What they're saying: "In meetings with hundreds of owners of bars and breweries across the state, I've heard their stories of struggle, and I've observed their serious commitment to making health and safety a continuing priority in their businesses," said Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said in a statement, per AP.

  • "It's time that we take this step, and it's vital that we start moving forward with this sector of our hospitality industry who have endured one of the toughest paths for sustaining a business during this pandemic," Beshears said, adding on Twitter that bars will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity starting on Monday.
  • Beshears' emergency order on Thursday that rescinded a previous order banning the sale of alcohol at bars was issued at the direction of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, AP reports.

Of note: NIAID director Anthony Fauci stressed this summer that closing bars, where people can congregate without masks, is crucial to slowing the spread of the virus.

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