Tampa threatens to revoke liquor licenses of restaurants, bars that ignore COVID-19 rules

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Mayor Jane Castor says Tampa is prepared to suspend or revoke liquor licenses for bars and restaurants that repeatedly ignore the city’s COVID-19 orders.

The threat comes after 8 On Your Side found crowds of maskless drinkers packing bars on South Howard Avenue on News Year’s Eve. In many instances, the crowds reached pre-pandemic sizes with people standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

“It’s so irresponsible. Not only on the individuals part but also on the bar owners’ part and the restaurants,” Castor said.

Businesses that continue to flout safety orders could have their liquor licenses revoked. According to a news release, the city has started pursuing the suspension/revocation of liquor licenses of repeat offenders, businesses that have received two citations or more.

“Over the last several months, we have erred on the side of education and encouragement while relying heavily on the responsibility of our residents to help pull us out of this pandemic and come back stronger than ever,” Castor said. “And while the vast majority of our businesses and residents are acting responsibly, we can’t allow a few bad actors to compromise and lengthen the recovery efforts for an entire community.”

8 On Your Side reached out to a number of businesses on South Howard Avenue, where crowds were seen not wearing masks.

“We can only control what we can control within the confines of our building. So seeing what you are seeing – what you are seeing from the street – isn’t seeing what we are doing from our perspective,” said Billy Osborne, the general manager of MacDinton’s.

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