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Reopening Offers Bar Owners A Lifeline

Rob Chase says the bar at Digress Wine accounts for 50% of his business. Image: Zoom screenshot / WMFE
Rob Chase says the bar at Digress Wine accounts for 50% of his business. Image: Zoom screenshot / WMFE

Florida bars have been thrown a lifeline with the decision to allow them to re-open at fifty percent capacity. The easing of restrictions takes effect today.

When he announced the move to reopen bars last week, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said he’d talked to hundreds of bar and brewery owners and seen their commitment to health and safety. 

He said allowing reopening is vital to this sector of the hospitality industry. 

Rob Chase, owner of Digress Wine in College Park, focused on retail and deliveries over the summer, but he says closing the bar had a big impact on his business. 

“You know, it effectively cut out half of what we could do, and now that we can get a little bit of that back, I’ve got a spring in my step today. It’s pretty great, and I think this will help us get through everything now,” said Chase.

Chase thinks bar owners and customers have learned from the last time bars reopened and will be able to do so safely. 

“I think a lot of people were a little bit more cavalier than we should have been, so we are going to be a little bit more strict around here," he said.

"It’s never exactly fun to tell grown adults to put their mask on five or six times during their visit, but that’s where we are and people are understanding, so that’s just what we’ve got to do to move forward.”

New daily COVID-19 cases have been falling since the summer, and reported fatalities have also been trending down. Ninety eight new deaths were reported Saturday and thirteen on Sunday. 

Hear more about how Rob Chase and others who work in Central Florida's hospitality industry are coping with the pandemic on the Unwineding podcast

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