On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis directed all bars and nightclubs in Florida to close. Restaurants must also limit patron capacity to half.
The governor says it’s the best way to reduce density and crowds in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The order also gives the flexibility for local governments to go further.
“We got a little vacation time in right before the 'whatchamacallit' hits the fan,” said Joe Hytha, a suburban Philadelphia resident. “It’s a very different vibe. People are starting to take it more serious.”
That’s how Hytha and his friends describe their week-long trip to South Florida. Word of fewer late night options effective Tuesday evening in Delray Beach spread fast.
”You think about all the people who are career bartenders and waitresses,” said Hytha. “A lot of our good friends are going to be hit by this.”
Just meters away from Hytha were Delray Beach Fire Rescue inspectors giving notices of city directed changes specifically to restaurants. Code enforcement notified bars and nightclubs.
”For the most part business owners understand that this is for their safety -- the safety of their clientele,” said Dani Moschella, Delray Beach Fire Department public information officer.
In addition to the governor’s order that all restaurants will limit patron capacity to half, the city of Delray Beach is also mandating all restaurants to close indoor dining at 10 p.m and prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people on all city-owned property.
“It is something that will be enforced,” Moschella said.
In cities like West Palm Beach, some restaurants have temporarily stopped indoor dining all together for “curbside pickup and delivery” only. The ban on indoor dining is in effect at all 11 Grandview Public Market restaurants until further notice. The market is also offering updates and deals on its Facebook page to keep its customer base.
“Status updates. We’re thinking about giving away gifts to people who follow us -- let’s say a $100 gift card to the grocery store,” said Joe Muniz, Grandview Public Market general manager. “We don’t want to help spread the virus.”
DeSantis is also mandating all restaurant employees be screened for the coronavirus and requiring restaurants that offer dine-in service to separate tables by at least 6 feet.