ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – When 8 On Your Side informed the co-owner of Right Around the Corner Arcade, Brewery and Bar that the head of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation plans to start discussions on reopening bars and breweries later this week, his answer was quite frank.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” John McMahan said Sunday evening.
On the front door to the brewery on Central Avenue, a sign with a picture of Governor Ron DeSantis lets customers know they can grab a beer at places like Walt Disney World, the St. Pete Pier or a casino while breweries and bars are closed.
“We’ve now been closed longer than we’ve been open for 2020,” McMahan said, “which is extremely frustrating.”
McMahan said he doesn’t take issue with restaurants that are open right now, but he just doesn’t understand why they can serve customers while his business cannot.
“We want everyone to be open and we want everyone to be safe,” he said. “However, the lack of communication, the lack of transparency, the lack of enforcement of those that are open right now is mind-blowing.”
Large crowds, like the ones 8 On Your Side saw in early June at packed bars in St. Pete and South Tampa led the state to suspend on-premise alcohol consumption at businesses making more than half their revenue on booze and beer sales.
“Maybe we’ll see a tweet when we can open back again,” McMahan said.
Since the state’s craft brewing industry sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis and Secretary Halsey Beshears, the latter did reply with a new tweet.
Beshears said meetings with breweries and bars will start Friday to “come up with a Safe, Smart and Step-by-step plan based on input, science and relative facts on how to reopen as soon as possible.”
“The brewery focuses itself primarily on cleaning,” McMahan said.
His vision for reopening safely includes standards for sanitation, limited hours and capacity, and possibly outdoor seating only.
“What we’re really asking for is communication, being able to open responsibly, being able to open with a set of guidelines so our industry can survive,” McMahan told 8 On Your Side.
There is some encouraging coronavirus news from Pinellas County. For two weeks in a row, the positivity rate for new cases has been around or below 10 percent. On Sunday, it dropped to 4.9 percent.
8 On Your Side will keep you posted on the next steps for breweries and bars that are eager to reopen with new health and safety rules.
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