Phase 2 underway, but South Florida bars say they’re still being unfairly left out

Phase 2 allows Miami-Dade and Broward counties to explore reopening schools, but local leaders have said they aren't planning to reopen bars, which has owners and employees frustrated and out of work.

MIAMI – Holding signs and demanding a shot — to get back to work — bar owners and employees are demonstrating and pleading to be allowed to reopen.

They say these bars and nightclubs are a huge part of South Florida life, and they insist they can operate just like a restaurant, with the same rules and guidelines to prevent spreading COVID-19.

But for now, they are still shuttered in Miami-Dade and Broward, even as those counties join Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan.

“I don’t know what the logic is,” says Ricky Sekuloski, of Cafeina in Wynwood. “I don’t understand it.”

City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said Monday that he disagrees with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s view that bars shouldn’t open until there’s a coronavirus vaccine.

“I don’t agree with saying that we need to wait for a vaccine [to reopen bars],” Suarez said. "And I’ll talk to him about this. I don’t like putting targets like that that you can’t really control. I’ve already been meeting with that community and starting the discussion, just like we did with restaurants and gyms.”

Broward County Mayor Dale Holness has mirrored Gimenez in saying bars are too dangerous to open at this point with COVID-19 still in the community.

Miami-Dade is catching up to Broward, with bowling alleys, movie theaters and some other entertainment venues getting the go-ahead to reopen with restrictions.

Zoo Miami announced that after being closed for months, it will reopen Tuesday.

The county’s curfew has also moved back to 11 p.m.

Perhaps most importantly, Phase 2 begins the possibility of schools reopening their classrooms for students to learn in person. Monroe County’s classrooms reopened to students Monday, and Miami-Dade and Broward are considering their plans to do the same.

“The ability for schools to open is, I think, a big deal,” Suarez said. “For parents, there probably isn’t a bigger issue right now.”

But when it comes to bars, there’s still no date in sight for them to be able to return to work.

“People are drinking at restaurants,” said Rick Sarille of Homecookin' Hospitality Group, “so there’s really no difference.”

About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.