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Palm Beach County considers move to Phase Two, but likely not before Labor Day

Commissioner Hal Valeche says he hopes colleagues will act sooner
Posted at 4:26 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 18:30:11-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County businesses may not get to move into Phase Two before Labor Day weekend.

County commissioners directed County Administrator Verdenia Baker to prepare a plan to present at Tuesday's meeting, but the plan may not take effect until after the holiday weekend.

Cleve Mash, owner of the Pawn Shop on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach, said nightclubs and bars have been left in the dark.

"I've already developed a menu and I'm going to open my kitchen as soon as I get my license, and I will open and I will serve food and I will serve drinks and follow the rules as they've set forth," Mash said.

When commissioners discuss a plan to move into Phase Two, it will likely exclude standalone bars.

"There's some exclusions," Commissioner Hal Valeche said.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche hopeful for Phase Two before Labor Day
Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche says he hopes his fellow commissioners will move the county into Phase Two before the Labor Day weekend.

RELATED: Commissioners discuss entering Phase Two

The plan to join a partial Phase Two won't go into effect right away. Valeche is in favor of joining Phase Two as quickly as possible, but commissioners may vote to wait until after Labor Day.

"I hope three more days of data that we get will help convince my colleagues that, you know, we're in a good position to go into Phase Two without waiting an additional week," Valeche said.

Phase Two will allow restaurants to increase capacity and movie theaters to reopen with guidelines and limited capacity.

Mash said he hopes Mayor Dave Kerner and commissioners will consider giving nightlife business owners a timeline of when they can open.

Archive photo of crowd outside Pawn Shop on Clematis Street
The nightlife industry has been hit hard by Palm Beach County's reluctance to move to Phase Two.

"As our numbers continue to remain at acceptable levels, the discussion about Phase Two makes sense," Kerner said in a statement released by the county Friday. "All seven members of the board will have input as it relates to the presented plan and it is our job to take in all the information and come to a consensus of the best path forward for our residents."

For many, Mash said, the move to Phase Two will mean rebuilding a staff.

"I'm trying to do whatever I can to open my business and follow the rules," Mash said. "I want the opportunity the same way gyms, salons, restaurants -- I want the opportunity to stay afloat."