Florida has joined Texas in banning drinking in bars, while Miami has moved to close beaches and parks — all just in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, officials announced Friday.
The drastic measures come as Florida’s coronavirus cases continue to soar. Under the bar ban, businesses that rake in more than half of their sales from alcohol can still sell booze to go.
The Florida bar ban comes just three weeks after the businesses were allowed to reopen.
But Florida confirmed almost 9,000 coronavirus cases in a single day on Friday — a record — the Miami Herald reported.
Texas, meanwhile, ordered bars closed earlier Friday. This week, coronavirus cases in the state topped 5,000 in a single day for the first time.
“Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide,” Halsey Beshears, the department’s secretary, tweeted Friday morning.
Beshears added under the order “nothing changes for restaurants” where the majority of sales come from food sales.
Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez, meanwhile, condemned beachgoers for blatantly flouting coronavirus safety measures has he announced the holiday closures later in the day.
“As we continue to see more COVID-19 positive test results among young adults and rising hospitalizations, 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,” Gimenez said in a statement.
The order, which extends to the entire Miami-Dade County, comes while the state grapples with a dramatic uptick in COVID-19 cases. Florida set and broke single-day records for new cases twice this week after reporting two straight days with at least 5,000 positive test results.
Floridians drink and mingle in Miami Beach today.EPA/Cristobal Herrera
Gimenez in his stern statement said there were clearly “too many” businesses and people ignoring rules requiring masks inside public establishments or outside when 6 feet of social distancing is not an option.
“If people are not going to be responsible and protect themselves and others from this pandemic, then the government is forced to step in and restore common sense to save lives,” he added.
The order also bans any gatherings in the county of more than 50 people. Fireworks displays planned for the weekend will only be viewable from home or parked cars.
The drastic measures could be stretched out farther than just the weekend, the mayor warned.
“The closure may be extended if conditions do not improve and people do not follow New Normal rules requiring masks to be worn always inside commercial establishments and outdoors when social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible,” Gimenez said.