POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Polk County Chambers of Commerce are urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to reopen bars and microbreweries, as indoor restaurant capacity expands.

“The hospitality industry has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic with more jobs lost every day, many of which may never return. Bars and microbreweries are a key threat in weaving the intricate fabric that makes each of our communities unique,” reads the letter written by Lakeland Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Cory Skeates and Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Katie Worthington-Decker.

The letter was sent to Gov. DeSantis Monday.

It also states bar owners have been working on establishing protocols to satisfy CDC requirements since they were forced to close their businesses.

“They have been reconfiguring their patios and indoor seating areas to meet the standard of six feet social distancing, sanitizing the facilities, creating marked lines for waiting for service and are willing to test employee temperatures and initiate other safety measures,” the letter reads.

In response, the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said: “Thanks for letting me know. My hope is we get there sooner rather than later.”

According to Julie Townsend, executive director of Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, Linksters Tap Room, Hookah Palace, Lakeland Loft, Molly McHugh’s Irish Pub, Revival and Swan Brewing are some of the bars forced to remain closed in downtown Lakeland.

Some Tampa Bay officials interpreted new guidance from the DBPR to mean breweries with on-site food trucks could open.

“You figure, we got to be next, ya know? So, that’s what I keep hoping,” said Jack McHugh, general manager at Molly McHugh’s Irish Pub in Lakeland.

It hasn’t been a hopeful spring for McHugh who’s Irish Pub was forced to close on its biggest day of the year.

“I don’t think we ever expected to close at 5oclock on a Patty’s day,” he said.

Ever since, the bar has been filling alcohol to-go orders. Barstools have been sitting empty.

Meanwhile, McHugh’s neighbors on Kentucky Ave. in downtown Lakeland have busy patios and eager customers.

“It is a bit difficult for us to see places that just because they serve a little bit of food, they can open. It’s not fun to watch,” said McHugh.

McHugh is ready to reopen, he tells 8 On Your Side, with frequent hand sanitizing and social distancing.

“We have 3,500 square foot building so nothing’s nailed to the floor so we can move around tables and make it to where people can sit safely. We’ve got two patios so both of those we could have people sit outside 6 feet apart,” he said.

“It’s sad that we’re just sitting in here by ourselves right now,” said Skeates at Molly’s on Tuesday.

He wants to see bars reopen at 50% capacity, which is what restaurants are allowed to hold for indoor dining right now.

“Bars and microbreweries have a lot in common with restaurants and we’d like to see them allowed to operate with the same protocols and standards because health and safety needs to be at the forefront. But if they’re allowed to do that and able to do that we don’t’ see why they shouldn’t be open at this time,” he said.