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On June 26, 2020, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) issued Emergency Order 2020-09 suspending the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption at all businesses that “derive more than 50 [percent] of gross revenue from such sales.” The DBPR issued the order due in part to a spike in the number of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in June 2020, especially among younger people who may have been visiting bars, pubs, and nightclubs where alcohol is served and such establishments failing to comply with orders on occupancy restrictions. The emergency order went into effect immediately upon filing.

Notwithstanding the suspension of sales for on-premises consumption, businesses may continue to sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for consumption off the premises in accordance with Executive Order 20-71, issued by Governor Ron DeSantis on March 20, 2020. In addition, businesses licensed as public food service establishments or restaurants “may continue to operate for on-premises consumption of food and beverages at tables pursuant to the restrictions in Executive Order 20-139.” These establishments may continue to operate “so long as [they] derive 50 [percent] or less of gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.”

Emergency Order 2020-09 comes just three weeks after Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-139 on June 3, 2020, initiating Phase 2 of the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery.” Under Phase 2 of the state’s recovery plan, restaurants, bars, and other businesses that are licensed to sell alcoholic drinks for consumption on the premises were allowed to operate at 50 percent of their indoor capacity. In addition, outdoor seating was permissible with appropriate social distancing. Phase 2 did not allow for the reopening of nightclubs. In Executive Order 20-139, Governor DeSantis directed the DBPR to enforce the restrictions included in the order.

Notably, Florida is not the only state to take such drastic measures in response to the rapid increase in the numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19. At least two other states, Texas and California, have issued similar orders.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar programs.

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