Tampa Bay bar owners devastated following new alcohol mandate to combat coronavirus

Coronavirus

TAMPA (WFLA) – The head of the Florida Department of Business and Professional regulation sent out a tweet on Friday ordering they would immediately suspend on-premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide.

A short time later an official order from the department clarified that any bar that earns more than 50 percent of its income from the sale of alcohol must stop sales immediately.

At Zydeco Brew Werks in Ybor City, they removed chairs from the bar as owner J. Paul Pepin prepared for another partial shut down of his business.

“Fortunately for us we have a restaurant license so we are able to sell food and our beer here,” said Pepin.

Still, the order is having a direct impact on his business.

“I lose my bar seats, basically we are going back to pretty much phase one,” said Pepin.

The partial closure is not helping him pay the bills.

“The A.C. bill is still the same TECO, electric, everything is the same, the problem is at six feet apart, I can’t get to 100 percent occupancy because my footprint didn’t get any bigger,” said Pepin.

Other bars and brewery owners are not as fortunate. Without a kitchen or the ability to sell food, they will be banned from selling alcohol to be consumed in their establishments.

Dale Nichols who owns the Flamingo Bar in St. Petersburg made many changes to his bar planning for a reopening and is now left with unanswered questions.

“We redid the place, sanitized it, painted and cleaned it up, and had the parking lot redone. Just got it all ready to open back up and it was a disappointment,” Nichols said.

When 8 On Your Side’s Chip Osowski asked Nichols how long he’ll be closed this time Nichols was left unsure.

“I really don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know what the governor’s got in mind,” Nichols said.

The news comes following multiple employees and patrons at UCF-area bar testing positive for the coronavirus.

Pepin believes a few bad examples have put the jobs of many in jeopardy.

“There’s a lot of good competent bar owners that are out there that were following the rules and everything was great and you’ve got a few bad apples and now everything is applesauce again, so that’s a problem,” said Pepin.

8 On Your Side contacted the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County who tell us they just received this order from the state and are still working on a plan of how to enforce this order.

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