Florida bans booze in bars in effort to curb soaring coronavirus cases

27 June 2020, 10:58

Alcohol in bars is now barred from being sold in Florida
Alcohol in bars is now barred from being sold in Florida. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Florida has banned the consumption of alcohol at its bars and ordered Miami beaches to close as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases per day in the US surged to an all-time high of 40,000.

In a single day, 8,942 new cases were confirmed in Florida alone, a new record almost double the previous mark set just two days earlier.

The state has now become one of a number reversing the relaxations of coronavirus lockdown rules, as the virus seems to grow out of control in the United States.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has also announced is closing beaches in the county over the Fourth of July weekend.

"I have decided that the only prudent thing to do to tamp down this recent uptick is to crack down on recreational activities that put our overall community at higher risk," he said in a statement.

State officials have attributed much of the new outbreak to young adults flocking to bars after they reopened in most of the state three weeks ago, with many of them ignoring social distancing restrictions aimed at lowering the virus's spread.

Miami has also ordered its public beaches to close
Miami has also ordered its public beaches to close. Picture: PA

Restaurants that primarily sell food can still serve alcohol to customers seated at tables.

Business and Professional Regulations Secretary Halsey Beshears said he issued the order because too many bars and patrons were breaking the rules, overwhelming his department's inspectors.

"This was more than we could keep up with," Mr Beshears said.

He said people got tired of being cooped up and maybe thought the threat of coronavirus had lessened because news coverage shifted to the protests caused by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

"People in general just wanted to get out and experience a normalcy," he said. He said there was no timetable for rescinding the order.

Texas has banned all bars from opening, after the state reported more than 17,000 new cases in the past three days, with a record high of nearly 6,000 on Thursday.

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Texas governor Greg Abbott had pursued one of the most aggressive reopening schedules of any governor. The Republican not only resisted calls to order the wearing of masks but also refused until last week to let local governments take such measures.

Miami, other cities and several counties including Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Orange are requiring masks in public places.