Employees of Alberto’s on Fifth don protective masks; Courtesy of Alberto’s on Fifth

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Now What?

As COVID-19 cases rise throughout Florida, bars are back on hiatus and the restaurant business continues to adjust through the tumult.

If you think you’re suffering from whiplash trying to keep up with the amoebic push and pull of what’s closed then not, try walking in the shoes of food and beverage industry leaders. Each day, weighing heavily on the entrepreneurs are public health concerns, profit margins and tracking executive—and now emergency—orders.

As Phase 2 of Florida’s recovery from the novel coronavirus took effect in early June, bars were allowed to reopen. But with new cases spiking and haphazard enforcement of social distancing a difficult reality, Halsey Beshears, secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, put an emergency order into effect on June 26 suspending sales of alcohol for consumption on premise for vendors that derive more than 50 of revenue from it. (Technically, places can stay open for to-go service, but in practice how many will?) Spots with “bar” featured prominently in the title but that offer a full menu, such as Bar Tulia, are not affected.

With an abundance of caution, Ocean Prime has installed clear plastic dividers between its tables.

We salute those making tough decisions each and every day, and our hearts go out to those who are affected—and we applaud restaurants trying to do right by their teams and the general public. While there is no mask mandate at the state or local level, we appreciate businesses that are asking their workers to stay covered, since the CDC recommends widespread use in public to control the spread of the disease. It is also commendable how some are taking the path of ultimate transparency and voluntarily closing, testing and sanitizing if Covid-19 creeps all too close to home, notifying customers via e-blasts or social media of temporary closures due to an employee receiving a positive diagnosis. At least four restaurants in Naples alone can be credited for doing this—and we plan to return for take-out as soon as doors reopen because we trust they are doing all they can to ensure public safety.