As other Florida businesses reopen for Memorial Day weekend, bar owners feel left out

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Left out of the governor’s reopening plan, local bar owners protested to reopen their businesses on Saturday.

Dozens of owners, bartenders and customers packed the parking lot at Rascal’s bar on the Westside of Jacksonville.

The protestors said Memorial Day weekend is one of their busiest times of the year and they’re missing out on all that revenue after they’ve already missed other big spring events like Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day and spring break.

On Saturday, the calls to reopen grew louder.

“It’s unbelievably hard on all of us,” said Martina Moenckert and Bryan Belleca, owners of Fat Boyz Roadside Bar.

Moenckert and Belleca are calling for the right to reopen safely just as they say other businesses have already done.

“We hope that the governor will finally see that we were the first to close and we’re still not even able to open right now and were the last to open," they said. "Restaurants are opening at 50%. What’s the difference between Walmart, Home Depot and a bar?”

Some still question the safety of allowing bars to open their doors.

Mary Young came out to the protest to support her struggling friends, but she still worries that bar patrons won’t practice safe distancing.

“Under the influence, nobody’s gonna do that,” Young said. “You already see people are reckless and careless now not doing what they’re supposed to do so imagine if they open it up.”

Bars are not scheduled to reopen until phase two of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s plan. It’s unclear when the next phase will begin.

Bars that get more than 50% of their revenue from liquor sales are not permitted to reopen under phase one of the plan.

Those that serve enough food qualify as “restaurant establishments” and have been allowed to reopen to the 50% capacity.

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