ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Many bars around Florida are reopening their doors for the first time in months on Friday, but for some bar owners that have been able to keep their bars open because they serve food, keeping customers in line hasn’t been easy.
Don, the owner of Parliament House who asked for us not to use his last name, spoke to Channel 9 about videos that show big crowds there this week. He said it has been incredibly difficult to enforce COVID-19 mandates.
To get in the door of the 45-year-old club, customers need a mask, and management only allows 50% occupancy.
The owner says those rules make it really tough to pay their bills, and at this point, he said, they are just trying to do whatever they can to keep the place open.
“If we don’t have shows, we don’t have anything in reality,” he said.
In videos at the club shot earlier this week, not much social distancing occurs, and few people with masks are actually covering their faces.
“All night long, our emcee talks to them,” the owner said. “'Try to keep your masks on. You’ve got to social distance. You can’t walk around with your drink.'”
He said because his customers can’t dance during the pandemic, they crowd to one part of the club during shows.
“It doesn’t look like a disaster to me, but we do try,” he said.
Orange County’s pandemic protocol enforcement strike team paid Parliament House a visit on Sept. 3. The inspection was during the day, and the team said the club was in compliance, but the state said its division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco is investigating the club based on the videos.
The owner said he is begging customers to follow the rules so the club doesn’t have to close.
“We try to keep as many people working as possible without going broke,” he said. “That’s really all we’re doing. We’re not making any money. That, I guarantee you.”