Policing Bars: State seeks help of Floridians

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 9:18 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - It’s going to be at least ten more days before the state even considers allowing bars to reopen in Florida, and that’s a big ‘if’.

An alert citizen's video resulted in Bajas Beachclub bar in Tallahassee having its license suspended for violating the state's on-premises closure order.

A second license was also suspended in Orlando.

“It is impossible to police 20 million across the state with 140 ABT officers more or less,” said Florida Division of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears.

Since the June 26th order, the state has received 625 citizen complaints.

“We follow up with an ABT agent the next day. We try and go back at the time the complaint was filed. So we try and go at the time we think that violation may occur,” said Beshears.

The agency has set a date of July 16th to reconsider the bar closure order.

“There was a direct correlation we thought at the time the Governor opened the bars to the spike. So we felt like after three weeks we could see those numbers arrested or flat lined,” said Beshears.

But with over 7,300 new cases Tuesday, the likelihood of reopening that soon is declining.

“The next step if we don’t see a drop in those numbers, maybe the restaurants are next,” said Beshears.

On the day the bar closure was ordered, Carol Dover, the CEO of the Restaurant and Lodging Association warned her members they could be next.

“So we better pay attention. It’s 50 percent,” said Dover.

But Beshears told us it’s not an action the state wants to take.

“This thing isn’t prejudice towards anyone. It is an equal opportunity terrorists toward everybody who’s out there in business right now,” said Beshears..

And the Secretary told us local sheriffs have been especially helpful in pointing out violators.

Complaints can be filed online here.

Those filing are asked to be specific and include pictures of violations when possible.

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