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Bar owners, employees protest over not being allowed to open in Phase 2

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – COVID-19 cases are showing signs of slowing in South Florida and both Miami-Dade and Broward counties have received the green light to enter Phase 2. That means that some businesses forced to close to stop the spread of the coronavirus will now be able to welcome customers at limited capacity.

In Broward County, movie theaters and bowling alleys opened Monday. At noon on Friday, the changes went into effect in Miami-Dade County.

Movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, playhouses, concert houses, convention spaces and auditoriums can now operate at 50 percent capacity.

Phase 2 also opened the path for superintendents of Miami-Dade and Broward County public schools to consider sending students and teachers back into the classroom for socially distanced learning as early as October.

Miami-Dade County Phase 2 reopenings
Miami-Dade County Phase 2 reopenings (WPLG)

But while bars around the state are up and running, the doors remain closed in South Florida.

Bar owners, bartenders, and servers gathered outside the Elbo room in Fort Lauderdale in protest on Saturday. It is just one of hundreds of bars in South Florida that have been shut down for nearly 6 months.

Ritchie Rockstar, owner of Booze Garden in Fort Lauderdale, was forced to close four of his locations in both counties, putting more than 120 of his employees out of work.

“Restaurants are out there selling liquor and we are not allowed to open because we don’t serve food. It is not fair. It is an unfair playing field right now,” he said. “We have had employees that have moved away. We have had employees that have found other jobs.”

Nightclubs, which draw much of their revenue from their liquor sales, are also excluded in Phase 2 until further notice from county leaders.

“We just want to open up,” Mike Cabrera of The Hub Lounge said. “We will follow the guidelines.”

For businesses that are open, customers must wear face masks or some sort of facial covering. It is the law.

RELATED: List of cases by city in South Florida

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