Gov. Ron DeSantis today ordered all bars and nightclubs to close for 30 days starting at 5 p.m. today across the state, and ordered restaurants to limit seating capacity to 50 percent of a restaurant’s floor space, with appropriate distances between patrons. He is also recommending that colleges and universities not resume instruction in person through the end of the semester. And he is urging limits on gatherings on the state’s beaches and supporting the closure of beaches in Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach.
Taken together, it is the most sweeping set of restrictions and recommendations yet in Florida as the coronavirus approaches 200 infections in the state and six deaths, and passes the 5,700 mark in the nation, with close to 100 deaths.
For local businesses, the prospect of shutdowns is “terrifying,” in the words of Moonrise Brewing Company Owner Benjamin Davenport–not because he doesn’t support the safety measures: he does, in every way, and does not consider them an overreaction. But because it doesn’t take away the economic hardships that will also exact a very serious toll, even on a business like his that, as yet, does not have to close in accordance with the governor’s order.
At the Brown Dog, a craft beers bar and restaurant that operates under a restaurant license at St. Joe Plaza in Palm Coast, the governor’s closure order also doesn’t apply, but swirling news of the virus has taken a toll anyway. The 50 percent rule may constrain business even more. “I just have to figure out if it’s going to be worth staying open even if we’re allowed to,” Brown Dog owner Nick Fuller said today. “We’re going to try it for a little bit and see, and if nobody is coming out we’ll make that decision then, but until further notice we’re open.” He’s not worried about having to close necessarily.
His concern is for employees being out of work. Meanwhile, he’s been heartened by customers who have braved the announcements and continued to come in. “I had a bunch of customers come up to me saying we’re trying to support the local businesses,” Fuller said. “We’re very grateful for our regulars that have come and supported us.”
For Eric Cooley, the Flagler Beach city commissioner who runs a different kind of business–the 7-Eleven on A1A–it’s a different kind of worry. He doesn’t have to close. But that’s not making him any less unsettled. “I’m slam busy, and I’m not comfortable with it. This is the only time you’ll hear me say this,” Cooley said.
The reason: “The beach has been very, very busy, there’s a lot of people here, it’s spring break, the teens are all over the place,” Cooley said. “While it’s good for business, the downside is the people who are coming into the businesses are the same people who have no concern about the virus. For me, it’s a great concern, so I’m caught between a rock and a hard place.” He said it’s a choice between capitalizing on the volume of business or closing to be self-protective of himself and his staff, all of which falls in the at-risk subgroup for the virus. “Unfortunately there’s no good answer.”
What concerns him especially is the behavior of younger people who may be carriers but aren’t taking precautions. “You’d be appalled by the way people are acting,” he said. “It’s very, very scary.”
That was the governor’s concern when he spoke today. “That could be problematic for spreading the virus,” DeSantis said. “If they’re not meeting in those big groups then the chance of that being passed on is less. We’ve also seen issues related to spring break with some of the beaches.” He said he supported the closure of beaches in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale and was aware of “big crowds” on the west coast of Florida. But he stopped short of himself ordering closures.
“Simply for the statewide floor for beaches is applying the CDC guidance of no group on the beach more than 10, and you have to have distance apart if you’re going to be out there,” he said. “So that will apply statewide. Now, different localities are going to make decisions about what makes sense. But having talked to mayors, it’s certainly not uniform.”
As has been the case nationally and even locally, the mixed messaging has at times been contradictory, especially with health and emergency officials–including Flagler’s–saying that even though there may not be confirmed cases locally, communities must act as if the virus is here. Yet the governor is citing the absence of confirmed cases as a reason not to have the same rules apply everywhere. He’s leaving it to localities to impose stricter rules if they wish–or to not do so.
“This is the floor for Florida for the foreseeable future,” he said, regarding beaches, bars and restaurants. “I think you’re going to see Miami probably go further than that, and we support the efforts that the locals are doing. I think this is a virus that’s affecting the whole state but it affects different communities differently, the response may not always be the same on every little thing. We have a number of counties that have not had a single case, so I feel like this makes the most sense. It gives the flexibility for locals to go further if they want to but also recognizes that we do have some areas where we haven’t seen this yet.”
At Moonrise, the concerns have to do with the way the constraints have been trending toward shutting things down.
“We are a little nervous about the possibility of closing. I do feel like that will happen,” Davenport said today, even if Moonrise isn’t required to close at the moment.
Moonrise Brewing Company opened just over two years ago at European Village and quickly established itself as a popular destination, with its craft beers brewed on site and a constantly varied menu. It opened under a restaurant license, so it does not have to abide by the closure order, and it has already instituted the recommendations of limiting capacity by 50 percent and spreading out tables, along with additional measures such as no hand-held menues anymore, and rigorous sanitary cleanups of every high-touch surface.
“As of last week it’s been pretty normal,” Daveport said of business. “I strongly feel with all the announcements and the progression of the virus, over the last two days especially, I feel things are going to change pretty drastically during the week, unfortunately.” Still, Moonrise is keeping its regular business hours, it’s providing take-out, it’s got growlers to go, and Davenport himself said he’d be happy to provide curbside service (at European Village) if anyone requests it and would prefer not to go into the restaurant.
Just as state and local orders change at times more than once in a single day, businesses are trying to keep up with their own adaptations. The prospects ahead for all small businesses is unsettling. “We’re nervous, if we have to shut down we’re a small business, we don’t have a ton of funds to work with,” Davenport said. “Closing down for a week is not a huge deal, closing for two weeks is a big deal.” And to see businesses having to close for a month, he said, is “terrifying.”
Elsewhere, four students at the University of Florida have tested positive, one of whom had been traveling internationally, one or two of the others having likely been in a “hot spot” in New York, according to the governor. A 77-year-old man at an assisted living facility in Broward County has died, bringing the total number of Covid-19 case deaths in the state to six.
The number of tests administered in the state remains drastically low, which deceptively is keeping the number of cases low: there has been 940 negative test results so far, compared with 192 positive, and still just 872 tests pending.
Meanwhile, most essential businesses remain open. Some have altered hours, but all those listed below are open:
All Publix Stores are opening at 7 a.m. but closing nightly at 8 p.m. until further notice.
Target on State Road 100 is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Winn Dixie’s two Palm Coast locations are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Walmart at 174 Cypress Point Pkwy in Palm Coast is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. until further notice.
Walgreens at Belle Terre Parkway and State Road 100, open daily 7 a.m. to midnight.
Walgreens at 215 Palm Coast Parkway , open daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Walgreens at 1109 Palm Coast Pkwy SW, open daily 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., shorter hours on weekends.
CVS at 5151 Belle Terre Parkway (near Palm Coast Parkway) is open 24 hours.
CVS at 1 S Old Kings Rd is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Racetrac’s three Palm Coast locations remain open 24 hours.
The governor’s statement today is below. He did not take questions.
It’s the damn flu people. It’s a different flu but it’s the damn flu. If you listen to the mortality rate the CDC always ends the statement with it will come down because we do not know how many people really have it. The media never shares that fact. Yes, contagious and if you have underlying conditions it’s bad but so is the normal seasonal flu. How many homeless died in one of the Pelosivilles in the Bay Area today? How many died of food poisoning today in the US? How many died from the normal seasonal flu today in the US.? Why are we not focusing on getting people to get flu shots? Why is it on the news 24/7? Because you are watching it and they need viewership. Turn off your TV and take a breath. And stop HOARDING TOILET PAPER!! You are not going to shit yourself to death.
You are my spirit animal. I couldn’t agree more.
Linda H. says
Best comment of the day, Frederick. We all need to do our part to help our local businesses stay in business during this time. If you don’t feel comfortable sitting in a restaurant, order take out!
Don’t want to lose you, Moonrise!
I dont know either but the entire rest of the World are taking this alot more serious than you. Just sayin
@Really, I am taking it seriously. I do not want to be a carrier and infect others especially those who are elderly or have underlying conditions. But the panic you are seeing, the hoarding of TP, food, water, and it goes on and on and on….. That reaction is all panic and the media is fueling it. There was no panic like this through the swine flu and H1N1 and the world continued to spin, we did not put businesses out of business, we did not have people losing a pay check, and there was TP and food on the shelves…. Take a breath… relax, take precautions, go shopping for your elderly neighbors who are having the crap scared out of them. Everyone just needs to calm the F down and be real.
The H1N1 and other flues don’t panic people because there are flu shots and they don’t go global like this one has. The fact that this virus is worldwide and there is no vaccine is the part that shakes people up.
The fact that we have a no intelligent leadership in the government doesn’t help either.
It’s almost like germ warfare. They keep extending the time length, which is scary. I agree with the hoarding bit. I saw a woman at Walmart and she had the upper and lower parts of the cart loaded with TP. Walmart needs to put a limit of 1 per person for the giant size packages, and limit 2 for the smaller size
@Tulip… please do some research. HiNi flu.
“From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus.
From your comment about the current leadership I am sure you will agree that the total inept and buffoon leadership we had did a crappy job on saving lives. Where was the panic? Where was the 24/7 media and why did we have plenty of TP in the store?
Barbara Capuano says
Well said sir. Thank you for being levelheaded
I agree. I think this is way out or control, and now political. More than 30000 die every year with the flu.
Bill C says
More than that die in car crashes, where is the correlation?
Trailer Bob says
Amazing how freaked out people get without using common sense. We live in Florida man. Who needs toilet paper when you have a shower with warm running water. Take a dump then hit your but in the shower with soap and water. I see people buying up all the water they can get. Don’t they have running water in their homes and apartments? Chill out people. Now being concerned about a lack of beer and vodka…I get that, I mean what a great excuse (if you need one) to get pasted for a few weeks.
The Truth says
Do other states not have warm running water and showers where that theory wouldn’t work?
Anthony McHale says
Well Dr. Fred, let’s examine your statement bit by bit — You opine that it’s just the flu…many scientists, including those at the World Health Organization have decided differently — “Top officials at the World Health Organization this week have sought to differentiate the spreading novel coronavirus from influenza, with the underlying message that while seasonal flu cannot be stopped, countries still have the chance to limit cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new virus. “This virus is not SARS, it’s not MERS, and it’s not influenza,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing Tuesday, referencing other coronaviruses that have caused smaller outbreaks. “It is a unique virus with unique characteristics.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and others have said, COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu. It’s deadlier for young adults. It’s deadlier for older adults. In China, early data shows that it was 10 times deadlier. The flu kills less than 1% of infected people who are over age 65. By comparison, in China, COVID-19 killed 8% of those infected who were 70-79 and almost 15% of those infected who were age 80 or older. That’s a staggering difference. Even for younger people, the difference was striking. Flu killed .02% of infected patients age 18-49. It’s 10 times that for COVID-19. Your contention is that these experts are therefore lying to the public.
BTW — CDC estimates 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States. Not certain what something called “Pelosiville” has to do with this virus but if it makes you feel politically superior, have at it.
And of course the last resort is to blame the media for hyping the news. Well, if it is all “Bad” news to you then by all means turn off the TV, radio or just listen to Fox for the good news. There is no vaccine for Covid at this time and no flu shot will help you. I get flu shots regularly at the Daytona VA but nothing for this virus…
Anyway, good luck to you and those who still believe that this will simply go away..the governments of 50 plus countrie don’t agree…
Ty and I wasnt going to bother and try to reason with someone who hasnt done any self informing. WTG
Hmmm… Well Professor McHale, lets see what your disagreement is predicated on:
Data from China : Not even remotely credible
Policies and judgements from 50 plus governments : You must be clinically naive.
The manner in which you dismiss the “pelosivilles” (a real thing BTW), denigrate Fox news, and generally carry a snide tone in your missive leads me to think you are a left leaner.
I’m willing to bet you have a rainforest worth of toilet paper hoarded away.
Anthony McHale says
Well Jeff…I never cited any data from China — I was citing reports from the World Health Organization who have labeled CoVid as a “pandemic.” If you believe that many countries have gone into massive lock down are also clinically naive, then more’s the pity. You would also then have to believe they all are intentionally misleading their citizens. BTW — deaths in Spain yester climbed past 780 and in Italy more than 2,900. Those are facts, not opinions or conjectures. You argument about being snide should be directed to Fred…he first mentioned “Pelosivill,es” as a way to vilify Nancy Pelosi.
As for being a “left leaner” …how disingenuous to think that might somehow make me less American than anyone else. Please, stop with the politicization of this crises…and no — I do not have a stockpile of TP…We always keep extra in preparation for hurricane season so if you need some — I’ll be happy to give you a few roles to tide you over…
Bill C says
Thanks for a clear, concise and fact-based comment. I really am quite shocked at the head in the sand folks who want to change the discussion to politics as though that has anything to do with the pandemic. Folks lets stay focused. Digest the facts, form your own conclusions if you wish but regardless of what you think, CoVid us real and we need to do our best to stop it from spreading
Eric is right, but did he share the same concern during Bike Week. Two weeks in a row with out of town crowds in masses.
Concerned Citizen says
So they will close State Parks but not beaches?
It boils down to revenue. If they scare people off the beaches the dollars dry up. But hey tourism is more important than public health is right??
Everyone wants to keep denying Covid-19 isn’t in Flagler. You can only deny it so long as test kits “aren’t available” Once they come in rest assured the headlines will read 100s infected in Flagler. You just don’t stop a disease at the county line.
Born and Raised Here says
Bars and Restaurants have no reason being open at this time. Grocery stores, Pharmacies, and places to get gas need to be open, they provide products to survive.
Fredrick is 100% correct!
Young people keep complaining that they want to be taken more seriously. If so, they should act accordingly and start taking more responsibility for their own personal conduct—and the consequences it holds, not only for themselves but for the rest of society.
There is no excuse for being out of isopropyl alcohol, antiseptic wipes and masks. This is below a standard I am willing to accept as a U.S. TAX PAYER. See you at the election.
@Danm50..maybe I missed a debate or policy stance…which candidate is promising the US will never run out of isopropyl alcohol, antiseptic wipes and masks?
Youngest will grad college in may “virtually” or “remotely” what a crazy time right now. Stay safe.
Lol – the hysteria,madness, hand wringing, 24/7 “latest updates” cleaning out the paper products, sanitizer, wipes and now food in stores, one would think people are dropping in the streets and it’s the apocalypse upon us- it’s insanity-calm down already
The thing that makes people overstock up on everything is that the stores keep running out of things and people are afraid the product or products won’t be there when they are immediately needed. I do agree some people go way overboard. It’s a sinking feeling to see bare shelves a lot lately.
Concerned Citizen says
All these protective measures are going right out the window leaving the beaches open.
Let me get this straight. The Governor will mandate quarentine. He will shut down night clubs and bars. He will jeopardize the busniess of small stores and resturants by mandating how many people can be there. But he won’t do anything about the beaches during spring break?
He knows that by shutting down the beaches during spring break he looses a massive amount of revenue. While forgetting that once the virus goes out of control it’s on him. And why did he ever think the virus was age limited. All of these young people all over the place ding whatever sure won’t help.
Again we have elections coming up. And it’s time to remember we need changes. Everywhere.
Polls from both Gallup and Pew Research revealed that Republicans — who are largely distrustful of mainstream news organizations and primarily turn to Fox News and other right-wing sources for information on current events — were much less likely to take the risks of the coronavirus as seriously as their Democratic counterparts.
“Among subgroups, political party identification reflects the starkest differences in levels of worry about coronavirus exposure,” concluded Justin McCarthy, an analyst at Gallup.
Gallup’s poll, conducted between March 3 and 13, found that only 42% of Republicans were “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the virus. In comparison, 73% of Democrats expressed that level of concern.
Pew Research, which conducted its survey from March 10 to 16, found that 83% of Republicans who consumed only a diet of outlets with right-leaning audiences believed the news media had exaggerated the risks of the virus. That number was 30% higher than Democrats who consumed only outlets with left-leaning audiences.
More specifically, Pew Research found that 79% of people who said they turned to Fox News for their news believed the media had exaggerated the risks of the virus.
In general, 59% of Republicans surveyed by Pew Research believed the media had covered the outbreak either “very well” or “somewhat well.” That was 21% lower than those on the other side of the political spectrum, with 80% of Democrats believing the media had covered the virus well.
Republicans were more likely to believe conspiracy theories related to the virus. According to Pew Research, 37% of Republicans or those who leaned toward the GOP responded that they believed the virus was created in a lab, compared to 21% of Democrats or those who leaned Democratic.
Wow. You really hate FOX News. Tell me, what is your reliable news source?
Bill C says
I think what has become obvious is that FOX News is a disingenuous, make believe News source and they have been proven to be a propaganda machine for the President and his cronies. There are few if any serious journalists on that station. Instead you have a group of sycophants whose purpose is simply to keep the agenda of the “right” in the public ear.
Thank You Anthony McHale! Instead of rants filled with FOX “talking points” and “whataboutisms” we should all be heeding the advice of true “MEDICAL EXPERTS”!
Is there a possibility that we can all start acting like mature, responsible, calm, intelligent, caring citizens and STOP being completely greedy and panicked into acting out against others by hoarding and lashing out with such hate ?
Certainly we will get through this, but can’t we take this opportunity to find our better angels and come together as a caring community? This is a time to take this situation seriously, and act responsibly for the “Common Good”!
This is a lot different than the Flu Fredrick., The Flu is a human virus, this is a Novel Virus that has mutated from animals to humans. Do some research.