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Bar owners in Miami-Dade and Broward want opportunity to safely reopen

Miami-Dade bar owners angry, urging officials to allow them to reopen safely
Miami-Dade bar owners angry, urging officials to allow them to reopen safely

MIAMI – In Miami-Dade County, a big fight over reopening businesses revolves around bars and nightclubs.

Outraged business owners are now calling on Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to allow them to reopen their establishments.

Some of them feel targeted, wondering why they haven’t been given an opportunity to prove they can make it work with safety measures in place.

Bartenders at tap42 in Fort Lauderdale are still able to work, but only because its also a restaurant.

All standalone bars in Miami-Dade and Broward remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, even as the counties receive the go-ahead to move into Phase 2 of reopening.

“The bar is closed but we’re able to at least support our bartenders,” said tap42 manager John Curry. “It’s killing us, they are our neighbors. I feel for them. I talked to a couple bar owners down here, they’re struggling, not taking money in. Paying rent, no getting around that.”

In an almost off-hand comment on Tuesday, Gimenez told county commissioners he’s planning a conversation with bar owners later this week to consider easing up on the total closure.

“Maybe, that certain bars could open under the same guidelines as a restaurant; ie [the] bar is closed and serve drinks at a table,” Gimenez said.

Said Curry: “There are many ways. I see plexiglass, I mean that’s an option. Put that in-between seats, 2-to-3 guests per area. I think they are using it in convenience stores, then we can implement it into a bar.”

Also, on the call this morning with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Gimenez relayed a timeline from doctors Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, who expect without without a vaccine, business as usual is still at least a year away.

“We’re talking summer or fall of next year [is when] we’ll go back to normal-normal,” he said. “That does not mean we can’t start to open things more and more along the way.”

Gimenez said he plans to ease restrictions on other businesses later this week as well.

“I expect to issue orders later this week easing up on other interior spaces such as bowling alleys and movie theaters,” said Gimenez.

Nightclubs will remain closed though, as those are still problematic in a time of social distancing.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."