Indoor restaurant dining returns to parts of Florida in phase one
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Indoor restaurant dining returns to parts of Florida in phase one

| May 15, 2020 | Alcoholic Beverage Law |

Some Florida restaurants had the opportunity to partially open their doors on May 4 for the return of indoor dining under phase one of Re-Opening Florida. Under the new rules, restaurants can be at 25% capacity indoors and outdoor seating must be at least six feet apart. Groups are limited to 10 or fewer people. However, local governments still can use their discretion for remaining closed or imposing stricter rules.

Restaurant owners and staff are likely thrilled to be back in business, and initial reports reveal that crowds of patrons are also excited to eat someone else’s cooking after the state shut all non-essential businesses in March.

Phase 2 yet to come

Bars not earning at least half their revenue from food remain closed until phase two. The second phase would allow restaurants to operate at 75% capacity and bars and nightclubs to operate at 50% capacity. Governor Ron DeSantis authorized the phase one re-opening, but he has not said when he would allow phase two to begin.

The state’s web page dedicated to answering frequently asked questions about phase one of the plan indicates that the move into phase two will only be made when Gov. DeSantis believes the state is ready.

“Once the Governor determines it is suitable to continue re-opening and after fully considering medical data in consultation with state health officials,” explained a spokesperson for the governor. Considerations include numbers of tested citizens, available hospital beds and other factors.

More challenges to come for bar owners

Those bars and restaurants considering re-opening may wish to speak with an attorney that handles liquor licensing issues here in Florida. There will be new challenges for longtime businesses as well as those with the challenging task of launching a new business here in 2020.

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