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Bar owners say Gov. DeSantis is sending 'mixed messages' with new order that limits alcohol sales

It's been about three weeks since Florida was able to move into Phase 2 and bars were able to reopen again. Many are trying to get back on their feet.

TAMPA, Fla. — After a record-breaking increase in new coronavirus cases, the state has shut down alcohol sales once again.

"We had staff in complete panic. We heard it on the news and were shocked," Jason Fernandez said. 

The owner of Bernini in Ybor City says they got no notice from Tallahassee and are left trying to interpret a new order that limits alcohol sales. When asked who would mandate alcohol sales for him, Fernandez said it wasn't clear.

"That's what we don't know! Is it ATF? DBPR? The mayor? The governor? To be quite frank, they're sending mixed signals."

It's been about three weeks since Florida was able to move into Phase 2 and bars were able to reopen again. Many are trying to get back on their feet.

"That's why we're here today to educate them again, get this going, and get this distancing set so we can get this virus down," City of Tampa Code Enforcement Officer Danny Fernandez said.

Code enforcement went bar to bar in Ybor City on Friday night to make sure each was following the rules.

"We're not here to shut any establishment down. We're just here to educate the governor's order," Officer Amicho Joseph said.

The enforcement officers say not every bar has been responsible and many have been packed. 

"They've messed it up for the rest of us. There are some great operators. Some guys are doing it right. Social distancing 6 feet between our tables. We're doing all that we can, we're just trying to survive," J. Paul Pepin Managing Partner of Zydeco Brew Werks said.

While many wait to hear what will happen next, Fernandez says Bernini will be closing its doors Sunday.

"We're down to 10-20 percent of our sales. It's empty in there. We plan on locking our doors for two weeks," Fernandez said.

Local law enforcement agencies in the Tampa Bay area say they will leave alcohol enforcement to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. They will however be educating business owners about the order. Enforcement will be the last resort. 

RELATED: Florida Gov. DeSantis says there are no plans to mandate face mask requirements

RELATED: Florida adds another 8,942 new COVID-19 cases, breaking single-day record again

RELATED: Florida suspends drinking at bars as COVID-19 cases continue to spike statewide

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