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‘We’re so grateful': Florida bars can serve alcohol on-site again, with restrictions

Months after they closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida's bars are officially back open at 50% capacity.
Months after they closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida's bars are officially back open at 50% capacity.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – For the first time in months, bars in Florida on Monday could serve customers their favorite drink in-house, but guidelines remain in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bars in Florida can now reopen their taps, as long as they operate at 50% of the facility’s indoor capacity. They can serve patrons seated at the bar and serve guests who are seated outside and socially distanced.

Bars and craft breweries were among the businesses ordered to go dark in March by Gov. Ron DeSantis in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. In June, many were told they could reopen, but restrictions were soon put in place again due to widespread non-compliance with safety guidelines.

Shelly Abdal has owned the Boogerville Hideout in Green Cove Springs for more than two decades.

“We’re so grateful. Words can’t express how grateful we are,” Abdal said.

She said the bar was saved when the state announced that bars could reopen at 50% capacity.

“We were so close to losing everything. Everything we’ve worked for, for 25 plus years could have been gone in another two to three weeks," Abdal said.

Since the order to close, Bold City Brewery in Jacksonville said it lost 50% of distribution sales.

“Right now, we’re only able to sell to restaurants," said Susan Miller, CEO of Bold City Brewery. "Those are only at 50 percent, so even to have the bars open again at 50 percent will add at least another 50 percent of sales for us.”

Miller is expecting a rise in sales, and she said things are one step closer to getting back to normal.

“We’re thrilled," she said. "It is one step closer and we’re ok with just this one step. We’re glad to have the opportunity. We don’t want to rush it, but we don’t want to go backwards either.”

Abdal said her bar is a second home for her employees and customers. She said the bar has sanitized and added outdoor seating to make sure things are safe.

“I hope to God that we don’t have any problems and we can all get through this and all be responsible adults," she said.

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Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.