SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) – After being shut down for nearly three months, bars and pubs will be able to reopen Friday under phase two and there’s no doubt, things will look different.
Bars will also be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity inside and full capacity outside with social distancing. Customers will only be served if they are seated. In addition, restaurants will be allowed to open bar-top seating with appropriate social distancing.
The Beach Club on Siesta Key isn’t ready to open Friday; the business is going to be under construction for a little while longer. The business owner decided to revamp the place during the shutdown with coronavirus concerns kept at the top of mind.
General Manager Todd Carter says changes at the beach bar will help make customers feel comfortable and safe.
“For us, the biggest thing has been just trying to open space up… so people can sit down and social distance,” said Carter.
The bar split up VIP areas, doubled the amount of seating inside and opened up the floor to allow for safe social distancing. Carter says the goal was to create a lounge-like feel.
“The restaurants have had to innovate with their business models. Bars are going to have to do the same,” said Carter “We are making it to where people can be here and they don’t have to be on top of each other. That’s really been the key for us.”
Seating at the bars will be six feet apart. There will also be sanitizing stations around the area.
“It’s an entirely different world that we are in right now and I think we’re all just trying to figure it out together,” said Carter.
Even with precautions in place, some worry it’s too soon and socializing could cause a spike in coronavirus cases.
Health experts are cautiously optimistic as Florida opens up for Phase Two. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Mohammed Reza hopes people will stay vigilant.
“When younger people are going out to bars and clubs, they need to be vigilant and be mindful that there are other people that they are doing this for. I am still requesting that people be vigilant. If you have to interact with people, having a face mask on is highly recommended,” said Dr. Reza. “The virus is still circulating. It is much lower in terms of the rates of infection, but the reality is that the virus is still circling through our communities,” he continued.
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