Primary Day in Florida: Gov. DeSantis calls for major closures of nightclubs and bars.

TAMPA, Fla. – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced tighter guidelines for the state, including closing all bars and nightclubs for 30 days. The closure begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The decision comes after nearly 200 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The decision comes on St. Patrick’s Day, when bars are usually packed in celebration. The governor said Tuesday morning, despite the “social distancing” recommendation by the CDC and White House, Florida officials noticed there are still large groups of people congregating at bars.

Gov. DeSantis said the state is taking several steps, with one of the most consequential being that effective at 5pm Tuesday all bars and nightclubs will be closed for the next 30 days.

Other steps include:

  1. Recommending to the Board of Governors that remote learning at state universities continues for the spring semester, sending students home to prevent them from congregating on campus. Gov. DeSantis said four students at the University of Florida tested positive for coronavirus. One had traveled internationally and at least two others had visited a hot spot, like New York.
  2. Spreading people out on beaches with groups of no more than 10 people and adequate distance of six feet or more between beachgoers.
  3. Restaurants will need to screen employees and encourage patrons to get takeout or delivery. If they remain open, seating must be staggered and limited by at least six feet.

In explaining why he’s taking these steps and not more restrictive actions around beaches and restaurants, Gov. DeSantis explained that some counties do not have coronavirus cases. He said some localities, such as the City of Miami have taken further action against restaurants and beaches in Fort Lauderdale and Miami has been closed, and he supports those steps.

Monday afternoon, President Trump announced the CDC recommendation to all Americans to not gather in groups of more than 10 people, one of the steps he believes are necessary over the next 15 days to fight what he calls this “invisible enemy.”

In Florida, the Health Department unveiled a new map Monday showing the spread of the coronavirus across the state, mimicking the worldwide map available from John Hopkins and available on our website.