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Some restaurants wary of 100 percent capacity

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 6:39 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2020 at 8:52 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is praising the Governor’s move to phase three, allowing restaurants to operate at 100 percent capacity as “science-based.”

However, the association expects members to take a cautious approach to returning to normal.

Florida restaurants were hit harder by the COVID shutdown than any other industry.

“We were at an all-time high of over 1.5 million employees, and 930,000 plus were laid off,” said Carol Dover, President of FRLA.

The association is now applauding the Governor’s reopening order.

“There’s no doubt that science is on his side. The numbers have come down,” said Dover.

But the association is telling Floridians not to expect every restaurant to rush to full capacity.

“Some of my members this morning told me the patrons wanted to see, you know, open it up a little bit more. Some of them said we are comfortable right now. We’re gonna keep it as is for a couple of weeks or so to see, but the best part about it is they can make their own choice,” said Dover.

Over the weekend, state regulators were watching restaurants, bars and breweries after the opening order filed Friday.

Agents were pleasantly surprised by what they saw.

“The bars and the breweries. They knew they had to get it right this time. They tip-toed back into in a lot of different ways, they were doing the right thing,” said Florida DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears.

The agents out over the weekend found large crowds in just two cities, Gainesville where football fans partied, and downtown St. Petersburg.

The Governor’s order does allow counties to order restaurants to operate at less than 100 percent.

To enact tougher restrictions counties must submit economic impact statements explaining the cost to private businesses, but who would approve that order remains unclear.

The state’s top regulator said his agency will have only cursory review.

“We’re not going to be the ones reading all these plans. Only on the surface, they have to justify why they do it,” said Beshears.

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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