Officials in Florida said Friday they are banning people from consuming alcohol at bars across the state in order to slow down the spread of the CCP virus, which has seen record spikes in several U.S. states.
The Florida agency that governs bars announced the ban on Twitter, minutes after the Department of Health reported 8,942 new confirmed cases, topping the previous record of 5,500 set Wednesday.
“Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide,” the department’s regulation secretary, Halsey Beshears, said on Twitter.
Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide.
— HalseyBeshears (@HalseyBeshears) June 26, 2020
No additional information was given about any limitations on the restaurants’ dining capacity. Officials said they expect to give further details on the situation Friday afternoon.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a press conference last week that the recent sharp increase in new cases reflects expanded testing, especially among people who are younger and without symptoms.
The rise in cases comes weeks after the state eased restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, though DeSantis stated the state won’t slow down or roll back on reopening efforts.
The governor said on June 16 that the “negative effects” of shutting down the economy again would far exceed the “gains you are getting.”
“We’re not shutting down, we’re gonna go forward, we’re gonna continue to protect the most vulnerable,” DeSantis said. “To suppress a lot of working-age people at this point, I don’t think it would likely be very effective,” he added.
Texas officials made a similar announcement on Friday, as they ordered bars to close down again and restaurants to go back to dining at 50 percent capacity from a previous 75 percent.
Like Florida, Texas is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. The state has reported more than 17,000 confirmed cases in the last three days with a record high positive tests of 5,996 on Thursday. The day’s tally of 4,739 hospitalizations was also a record.
“As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the state of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.
Abbott also says rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers must close and outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments.
Total cases across the United States rose by nearly 40,000 on Thursday, becoming the largest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic.
Besides Florida and Texas, other states that are recently reporting a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases are Alabama, Arizona, California, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.