ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The future of bars and breweries in Florida took center stage on Thursday when Gov. Ron DeSantis visited St. Petersburg.
The governor held a roundtable discussion regarding bars and breweries at the Green Bench Brewing Company.
Joining DeSantis were Halsey Beshears, the secretary of Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, along with bar and brewery owners from around the state.
WATCH ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION:
Bars in Florida have been banned since June 26 from serving alcohol for "on premises consumption" after a spike in COVID-19 cases.
"We did the pause, let's just get through here, which I think was reasonable," DeSantis said.
Bars can still serve alcohol for takeout "in sealed containers," and restaurants can serve alcohol to customers who are sitting at tables.
State leaders didn't give any indications on Thursday as to when bars will be able to operate at full capacity again.
"I told [Beshears], I want every business in Florida operating. We pretty much have 99%," DeSantis said. "I told [Beshears] we really want to get to 'yes.' So we're working hard on it."
"This touches a lot of people in a lot of different ways," Beshears said. "The people you employ, the families that that touches, the communities you affect are all things we have to get back on track."
The governor said a "huge proportion" of job losses in Florida since the COVID-19 pandemic began has been in the leisure and hospitality industry.
"When you look at breweries, you guys obviously were hit very, very hard," DeSantis said. "Those are folks that you employ that are working hard and need to have the ability to earn a living."
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 637,013 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11,650 coronavirus-related deaths in the state.