Florida Bars Can Serve Patrons Inside At 50% Capacity Effective 6/5/20

Florida bars and pubs may operate at 50 percent capacity inside and full capacity outside with appropriate social distancing.

Florida “Phase 2” Recovery Plan Begins June 5, 2020

Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis announced Florida’s next step in the state’s Coronavirus recovery plan. As of Friday, June 5, 2020, the Sunshine State will transition from “Phase 1” to “Phase 2” of its “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” process to reopen.

The Palace Saloon, Florida's Oldest Bar, Downtown Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island.
Palace Saloon, Florida’s Oldest Bar, Fernandina Beach
Bars & Pubs Can Operate At 50% Capacity Inside

Included in “Phase 2” is allowing bars and pubs to serve patrons, with capacity restrictions to reduce density indoors. The news was announced during a press conference held Wed., June 3, 2020, and Executive Order 20-139 signed the same day. The Governor indicated bars and pubs can operate at 50% capacity inside (for seated service), and full capacity outside with appropriate social distancing.

This is long-awaited news for bar owners, their employees, and beverage industry suppliers around the state. Since March 17, 2020, bars had been limited to selling liquor to go by the bottle (or mixed drinks in sealed containers, to-go only).

Florida’s Oldest Bar
Palace Saloon doors, Florida's oldest bar, Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island
Palace Saloon Doors, “Florida’s Oldest Bar” in Fernandina Beach

Here on Amelia Island, those who walk through the saloon doors at The Palace in downtown Fernandina Beach, will once again be served inside Florida’s “oldest continuously operated drinking establishment.” When the clock strikes midnight on Thursday then transitions into Friday morning, The Palace will welcome back patrons starting the very first minute at 12:01 a.m. “to ring in Phase 2.” Bar guests can sit down inside and be served (within social distancing guidelines).

Florida Restaurants

Florida restaurants were already allowed to have indoor dining at 50% capacity during “Full Phase 1,” starting back on May 18, 2020 (with tables spread six feet apart). However, restaurants were not permitted to have bar-top seating, but now that restriction is lifted as of June 5th, (Phase 2). Restaurants can reopen their bar-top seating, with social distancing.

Travelers Arriving In Florida From “Hot Spots”

Travel restrictions for individuals entering Florida still apply in Phase 2 as follows: “Travelers from the New York Tri-State area must continue to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in Florida (unless travelers meet the emergency, commercial or education activity exceptions).” For further information, refer to Florida Executive Orders 20-80 and 20-82.

Note that Louisiana is no longer considered a hot spot state as of the June 5, 2020 Executive Order 20-139. Travelers from Louisiana entering Florida no longer have to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Florida Phase 2 Guidelines

Executive Order No. 20-139 also covers Phase 2 “Guidelines” and includes “Responsible Individual Activity” (in Section 2) as follows:

“All persons in Florida are encouraged to follow appropriate social distancing and safety protocols issued by the CDC and OSHA. The direction to follow such protocols, and those additional protocols listed below in this section, is guidance and not enforceable under section 252.4 7, Florida Statutes.

A. Senior citizens and individuals with a significant underlying medical condition are strongly encouraged to avoid crowds and take measures to limit the risk of
exposure to COVID-19.

B. All persons in Florida are encouraged to avoid congregating in groups larger than 50 persons.

C. All persons who work in long-term care facilities should be tested for COVID-19 on a routine basis.

D. In-store retail businesses, including gyms and fitness centers, should maintain appropriate social distancing and sanitation protocols.”

Movie Theaters Bowling Alleys 50% Capacity

Various other types of businesses are also authorized to reopen in Phase 2. “Movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, and arcades may operate at fifty (50) percent of their building capacity, with appropriate social distancing between groups and appropriate sanitation.”

Stores & Gyms 100%

Florida’s “Phase 2” allows retail stores and gyms to operate at full capacity.

Related Content

See previous article about restrictions in place for businesses and capacity levels in the Sunshine State during “Full Phase 1.”(March 19, 2020)

For more details about Florida’s Phase 2, see the Executive Order No. 20-139 document signed by the Governor on June 3, 2020.

Note: “Phase 2” applies to all counties in Florida except three — Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach (located in south Florida). These counties must separately seek approval for Phase 2 reopening from the Governor’s office, see Executive Order 20-139 for more information.