Despite Miami-Dade and Broward counties getting the green light to enter phase 2 of reopening by local and state officials, bars across both regions are still not allowed to open their doors. But, a grassroots effort by local business owners is trying to change that.
Outside the Elbo Room - a Fort Lauderdale-based bar - more than a dozen out-of-work bartenders and business owners gathered Saturday afternoon. Those in attendance said they were organizing an alliance between bar owners in Miami-Dade and Broward, demanding that both county mayors allow all businesses to reopen.
County officials have pointed to the difficulties of enforcing social distancing at bars as a major reason for their decision to keep them closed.
However, protesters at Saturday's gathering said they saw no difference between restaurants and bars.
Restaurants statewide are allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
"Seems like the coronavirus knows if you sell food or if you don’t and it’s going to attack bars that don’t serve food," said Michael Cabrera, a bartender at the Hub Bar.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis released a statement during the protest, saying the time had come to reopen bars.
"We have opened our restaurants, and we have done so safely. So, if we can make the world safe for people wanting to enjoy a meal out, let’s work together to make the world safe for people who want to enjoy a drink as well. Let’s see how we can make these difficult times easier on everyone," the statement said.
Under phase 2, both counties will be able to allow more indoor entertainment centers such as concert halls and theaters to open at 50% capacity with mandatory masks.