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Citrus Co. bar owners plead for DeSantis to allow them to reopen


CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Jerry Wells just wants a chance to reopen his bar.

“You can see I can social distance like anybody else. I’m taped off like everybody else. They come in one door, out another door. They’re not even crossing each other that way,” Wells described the layout of his Lecanto establishment. “The tables are all separated out there. If a restaurant can do it, how is this any different from a restaurant.”

Jerry Wells owns the 44 Pub in Lecanto, but currently works as a Wal-Mart greeter until he can reopen.

There is one difference. Wells owns The 44 Pub at the intersection of Gulf to Lake Highway and West Homosassa Trail in Lecanto.

There are still St. Patrick’s Day decorations on the door which was the last day he served his last drink and has been closed since then.

Wells says more than two months without an income has been tough.

“I’m still paying rent, still paying electric, still paying all my normal bills to keep everything on, everything going,” said Wells, who sought other employment until he can reopen. “Well, I’m a door greeter at Wal-Mart. Nothing against it, I’m glad they took me on. But it’s because I needed the money. I’ve got a family I’ve got to take care of too.”

He, like many bar owners in Citrus County, are looking for answers and want Governor Ron Desantis to give them a firm date on when they can reopen, so they can come up with a plan. They feel, that as small business owners in a small community, their voices are not being heard.

Terry Hunter owns Jim’s Club 19 on South Suncoast Boulevard in Homosassa. She owned the place with her husband who passed away more than a decade ago and says she is trying to stay strong for her family at home, and at the bar.

“I started to say the day they shut us down, I am smart and I am strong and we will all get through this. It’s going to be okay,” said Hunter. “Because, you know what, if I wasn’t saying that to myself every single day, I’d be crying all the time.”

She says it doesn’t seem right that some businesses that allow close contact are allowed to open, yet her business is not.

“And it’s just not fair. If they can let a beauty shop open, where that woman is playing in your hair and touching you?” Hunter asked, “But they can’t let one of my bartenders serve a drink four foot away?”

If bar owners don’t get an answer from Gov. DeSantis, they plan on a motorcycle rally to Tallahassee on June 6.

It is scheduled to take place from 2-4 pm in front of the capital building.


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