Pete’s Bar owners make plea to Florida governor: Let us open now

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – Pete’s Bar, the oldest bar in Neptune Beach, is calling out the Governor in hopes of reopening.

Pete’s Bar has been closed for 65 days. While it sat dark without customers on Friday night, it was a busy night for nearby restaurants.

The bar owners feel it’s not right that they can’t be open just because they don’t sell food.

“We are the oldest business in Neptune Beach, 87 years old and we’re the only business in Neptune Beach that isn’t open right now," Tom Whittingslow, Pete’s Bar co-owner told News4Jax. “I don’t understand, because I don’t sell hot dogs I’m considered unsafe, apparently. If I sold hot dogs here I could open up and I don’t understand the science in that.”

All bars in Florida remain were forced to close in March as Florida moved to limit large gatherings in confined spaces in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Whittingslow said the owners sent two letters to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to reopen bars.

The letter reads in part: “It is not in the purview of government to interfere with our livelihood and behavior."

“The scientists have been studying this virus for two months now and I don’t think that, if they told me I could open June 15th, I want you to tell me, what’s the difference between today and June 15th," Whittingslow said.

Whittingslow said his employees need their jobs.

“This state needs to be open for business, we need to get this country rolling again and I think Florida should step out and do it first," he said.

He said the business can’t take another 65 days of not being open.

Whittingslow said if bars were allowed to reopen he would make sure Pete’s Bar followed all of the CDC guidelines and regulations to make sure customers are safe.

Pete’s Bar is not the only bar that is fed up with being closed. Other bars and tattoo parlors in Jacksonville plan to hold a rally tomorrow to gain the attention of the state.

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