STUART, Fla. — Bars in Florida can once again open their doors beginning Monday after being closed for nearly six months due to COVID-19.
The announcement made Thursday night by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation will allow for bars to operate at 50% indoor capacity and to serve seated patrons inside.
Halsey Beshears, secretary at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, did not specify if bars would need to go through any specific procedures before allowing customers back inside beginning Monday.
However, because Palm Beach County has entered an incremental Phase Two, bars in the county will not reopen right away, a representative told WPTV.
Under the county's Phase Two reopening plan, bars, arcades, billiard halls, hookah, cigar, and other smoking bars and lounges, nightclubs, establishments offering adult entertainment and strip clubs will be allowed to reopen with reduced capacity in the final increment of the plan.
Harper's Pub in Stuart will be reopening Wednesday after being closed for the past five months.
Owner Ted Donahue said he can't wait to see his regular customers.
"We're excited. It's been a long time coming," Donahue said. "It should have happened a long time ago, but it's here."
Donahue has pub locations in Stuart, Port Salerno and Palm City.
"We have every liquor you can imagine," Donahue said. "People come here that live in the general area, visiting their friends. They have a couple drinks. They come here daily, typically, or at least once a week."
Residents told WPTV they are ready to get back to some sense of normalcy. Karen Horbatt and Jerilyn Grimm live in Hobe Sound.
"It's a real good thing," Grimm said. "I think people have been holed up too long."
Donahue said he'll be opening up a new location in October and can't wait to get back to old times, with a new twist. Before the coronavirus, Donahue said, he had a cleaning crew to clean the bar every night. Moving forward, he will be wiping it down after every customer.