JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville bar owner is speaking out, urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to allows the state’s bars to reopen their doors for onsite consumption.
The Bald Eagle Pub off Timuquana Road has been closed since March at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. DeSantis initially stopped bars and nightclubs from serving alcohol for on-site consumption as part of an emergency order on March 20 to try to help stop the spread of the virus.
The order was lifted on June 5 in all but South Florida, but the state reimposed the order three weeks later because non-compliance with the safety guidelines was considered too widespread to enforce.
Randy Martin, the owner of the Bald Eagle Pub, says he can’t stay closed any longer. He says the bar is a special place where veterans share war stories and employees know customers by name.
“This is a Tavern, this is a Cheers, this is somewhere where people come because they like each other,” he said. “It’s time to let us open up. It’s time to let us live our lives.”
Martin says despite selling food, the bar was forced to close in March. He said he spoke with a city worker, who explained why.
“He said because I put on my original application bar/restaurant that they considered me a bar,” Martin said.
Due to the pandemic, Martin said, the bar is hurting financially.
“From my customers, through my voice, we want to be together. Period,” he said. “Its saddening. We want our friends, so open us up.”
Employees there are out of work. It also affected musicians like Matthew Pence.
“The people here I know on a first name basis,” Pence said. “I’m not a hired gun. Many times I come here and perform for free, because I enjoy the interaction.”
Martin believes if gyms and restaurants are allowed to be open, bars should be able to do the same.
“We’ve got to get a message to the governor and say, please governor, if you can flip a coin at a football game and you didn’t social distance yourself from that high school player, then why am I social distancing from my friends, my customers and my coworkers,” Martin said.
Martin says he’s reaching out to other bar owners to stand together in hopes of getting the attention of DeSantis.