Orlando bar owners react to statewide ban on selling alcohol for on-site consumption

ORLANDO, Fla. — Over the last three weeks, bars in Central Florida have come back alive with the sounds of friends reuniting and drinking.

But now, that sound will be silenced.

Bars across Florida are no longer allowed to sell alcohol for on-site consumption, effective immediately as of Friday as COVID-19 case numbers continue to shatter records in the state.

See our in-depth coverage below:

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation made the announcement on Twitter Friday morning.

READ: Florida reports record-shattering 8,900 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, thousands more than ever reported in a single day


“Unfortunately … we’re getting good at this,” said Pete Ghalam, general manager of Ember on Church Street. “This is our second time around.”

Florida reported nearly 9,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

The department said the ban applies to “all vendors licensed to sell alcoholic beverages who derive more than 50% of gross revenue from such sales.” The order states that those vendors may still sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for off-site consumption.

READ: Orange County Convention Center COVID-19 testing line cut off early to ‘allow all cars in the queue to be processed’

Restaurants or other businesses that don’t make more than 50% of their revenue from alcohol sales are still able to sell alcohol for on-site consumption, the order states.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he hopes this will force Floridians, especially younger ones, to reducing transmission by observing the three C’s: Closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places with many people nearby and close contact settings such as close-range conversations.

Ghalam said his bar and a few others spent the money to ensure their bars complied with guidelines set forth when bars were allowed to reopen during Phase 2. There were temperature checks and masks were distributed, and customers who refused to wear them were turned away.

“It is frustrating when there’s folks that aren’t doing what we as a company perceive we should be doing,” Ghalam said.

READ: Who is dying of COVID-19 in Orange County? Breakdown by ethnicity, preexisting conditions

Click here for a list of COVID-19 testing sites in Central Florida.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.