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Statewide meetings held to discuss safest way to reopen bars, breweries

'I think we're being kind of bypassed and I'm not quite sure what that reason is'
Posted at 9:37 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 00:08:54-04

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — One of Florida's top officials is touring the state to speak with owners of breweries and bars. The goal is to discuss the safest way to open back up amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The next stop is Indian River County on Friday. But so far no one has visited establishments in the three largest counties in our area of the state.

"As far as breweries go, all of us are complying with the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines," Kevin Dorblaser said.

Dornblaser is the co-founder of NOBO Brewing Company in Boynton Beach, which is still in Phase One.

At the moment, there's momentum for change as Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, is in the midst of a statewide tour. He's meeting with owners of breweries and bars to figure out how to open them back up safely.

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"We were anticipating that he'd be coming through three of the largest counties or most populist counties in the state of Florida, but we haven't seen a meeting happen down here yet," Dornblaser said.

So far, Beashears has hit areas like Tampa, Tallahassee to Key West to name a few. Friday, he's heading to Indian River County.

Alden Bing is the co-founder of Orchid Island Brewery in Vero Beach. He said he's in favor of re-opening breweries and bars. But until that happens, he'd like to see the law prohibiting breweries from selling their product direct to consumer eased.

"If I could take a four-pack of my beer and walk across the street to the package store and sell it to them directly without losing a 30% margin, I might have a fighting chance at returning enough margin for me to survive right now," he said.

Beshears said he's looking to open bars and breweries through a cooperative approach to shape a responsible path forward. Dornblaser said it's time for Beshears to sit down with the business owners in South Florida.

"I think we're being kind of bypassed and I'm not quite sure what that reason is," he said.