CAPE CORAL, Fla -- Bars in Florida were officially allowed to reopen at midnight Monday.
Health experts in Southwest Florida are cautioning patrons and bar owners to keep their guard up, especially ahead of Fall and flu season.
Bar owners across the state spent the weekend preparing to safely reopen. They're now able to operate at 50% capacity indoors, allow bar service to seated patrons, and have outdoor seating and service with appropriate social distancing. The phased reopening is something bar owners hope will put them on the road to rebounding amid the pandemic.
However, if you do plan to pay your favorite establishment a visit, you should expect to have to do more than show your ID at the front door. That process will also include things like temperature checks and signs reminding you of the threshold and mask requirement.
Some bars in Florida said they even plan to wait a few days to reopen, to make sure they gets things right. Including a bar owner who owns six establishments in Orlando. He said when doors do reopen, his bars will be set up more like restaurants.
To keep numbers from increasing again, the Director of the Physician Assistant Program at FGCU said bar patrons need to keep their guard up.
"When people are in close proximity, when there's alcohol involved, they may be talking louder. They probably are not going to be maintaining six foot distance, especially as the number of people will start to increase at some of these establishments. So people need to be smart about this and realize that if you're going to be close, there's going to be a greater risk of COVID-19," said Robert Hawkes.
He said face coverings are one of the best ways to protect yourself in these types of settings, but recognized patrons will have to take them off to consume beverages.