Restrictions At Florida Beaches, Bars & Restaurants

Bars are closed for 30 days. Beaches and restaurants have new restrictions in this rapidly changing world of Coronavirus.

COVID-19 Implemented Changes In Florida

Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order on March 17, 2020 to reduce density and crowds in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and on Florida’s beaches to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Florida Bars & Nightclubs

Under the direction of Governor DeSantis, all bars and nightclubs throughout Florida are closed for 30 days (starting at 5 p.m. on March 17th, 2020). According to the Governor’s Office, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) will be enforcing this order and providing further guidance.

Palace Saloon, Historic District, Fernandina Beach
Palace Saloon, Fernandina’s Downtown Historic District
The Palace Saloon

Pictured above is the Fernandina’s notorious and historic bar, The Palace Saloon on Centre Street. Here in the Sunshine State, the saloon is considered Florida’s “oldest, continuously operated drinking establishment,” (first opening its doors in 1903). While it’s obviously not business as usual, The Palace is still serving the public by way of selling “grab and go liquor by the bottle,” and picnics to go. (See The Palace Saloon Facebook page for further information and status updates.)

Florida Restaurants

Restaurants across the state of Florida are required to limit customer entry to 50 percent of capacity. Seating must be staggered and limited to ensure seated parties are separated by a distance of at least six feet, in accordance with CDC guidelines. Restaurants are encouraged to remain open and expand take-out and delivery services.

NEWS UPDATE FRIDAY AFTERNOON, 3-20-2020 — Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, has issued another executive order pertaining to restaurants (see related article). It suspends on-premise food and alcohol consumption at Florida’s restaurants. However, restaurant kitchens can continue to prepare food for delivery and takeout orders.

Wicked BAO
Wicked BAO Restaurant, Fernandina Beach
Wicked BAO Restaurant, Downtown Fernandina

Many local restaurants are continuing to serve the public, implementing the required COVID-19 directive and offering orders to go. Some have added extra food to go services such as curbside pick up so customers don’t have to step inside the restaurant.

Wicked BAO, pictured above, is one of many offering curbside pickup. Restaurants, like David’s, one of Fernandina’s fine dining establishments, added the option of home delivery — even to some neighborhoods located off the island.

Take Out, Curbside, Delivery

Amelia Island has a large number of restaurant options. The Nassau County Chamber of Commerce has compiled this list of the Chamber’s member restaurants that now offer “some version of curbside pick-up, delivery and/or to go orders during this time.” (Note that everything these days is subject to change). Look at restaurant Facebook pages for new customer service options if you’d like curbside and/or delivery and follow updates, and give them a call.

Florida Beaches

The Governor is directing parties accessing public beaches in the state of Florida to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance by limiting gatherings on the beaches to no more than 10 persons per group. Some south Florida municipalities have closed down their beaches, such as Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Clearwater. With a fluid situation, others in the state could follow suit.

Peters Point Beach on Amelia Island, in Nassau County, Florida. Photo by magazine (3-19-2020).
Peters Point Beach, Amelia Island (3-19-2020)
Amelia Island Beaches

Currently, Amelia Island’s beaches, both city and county parks, and the State Parks, remain open at this writing. Florida State Parks have reduced hours, now only open daily (no overnight camping), from 8 am to 5 pm (instead of closing at sundown).

Florida State Parks Twitter March 17, 2020
TWEETED by Florida State Parks March 17, 2020
Florida State Park Daily Capacity Limits

Also, Florida State Parks have new daily limit capacities. If daily visitors reach a park’s capacity, they close entry for additional visitors for the rest of the day.

Fort Clinch gate closed. Park closing early due to new daily capacity limits.
Fort Clinch Gate Shut (Hitting Daily Visitor Capacity 3/19/2020)
Fort Clinch State Park

Under the new daily limits, both Fernandina’s Fort Clinch State Park and Little Talbot Island State Park (located a bit south of Amelia Island), reached daily limits in the morning hours before noon on Thursday, March 19th. (It’s anticipated they will reach daily limits even earlier on weekends, possibly not long after opening at 8 am.)

Florida’s COVID-19 Data & Surveillance Dashboard

Here in Nassau County, Florida, according to Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard (as of March 19, 2020 at 6:56 p.m.), there remains to be the one initial coronavirus case that was determined to be travel-related. The Florida COVID-19 map is currently being updated twice daily at around 11 a.m. and 6 pm.

For those interested in keeping up to date with the number of Florida coronavirus cases (in each of the 67 Florida counties), visit this map link, Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard. The map is provided by the Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection’s website.