For Orlando’s food and beverage community, today has been perhaps the most tumultuous roller coaster ride yet on the dystopian fantasy fairground that is the COVID-19 crisis.
Just after 10am, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer sent the community into a panic when he issued an executive order banning all sales of alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption in the city until further notice.
A few hours later, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued his own executive order banning sales of alcoholic drinks for 30 days at all “bars, pubs, and nightclubs,” defined as businesses that derive more than half their gross revenue from alcoholic drink sales.
Under the state order, restaurants are subject to a number of new rules to ensure social distancing, but they can still sell alcohol to drink onsite.
Plunged into Confusion
Orlando’s order was much more stringent than the state’s, and local restaurants were scrambling to adjust. That is, until just before 4pm, when a Tweet from the City plunged them into confusion yet again.
At 5 p.m., per Governor’s Executive Order, restaurants within our city can sell alcohol for onsite consumption, but must limit their occupancy to 50% of current building occupancy, ensure at least a 6-foot distance between any groups of patrons & limit parties to no more than 10.
— City of Orlando (@citybeautiful) March 17, 2020
For several hours, it was unclear whether that Tweet and a corresponding press release meant Mayor Dyer was walking back his earlier order banning on-premise sales at restaurants.
This evening, Dyer’s Press Secretary Cassandra Lafser confirmed as much to Orlando Wine Blog.
The City of Orlando’s rules are now identical to the State of Florida’s, she acknowledged.
Orlando restaurants can continue to sell alcoholic drinks, but like their counterparts across the state, they must cut their occupancy in half, ensure six feet of separation between parties, and and limit party size to ten people at most.
As for bars, pubs, and clubs – they’re still dry for 30 days.
As for members of Central Florida’s food and wine community – they remain flexible, creative, and on edge as they wait for the next twist, turn, or dip on a thrill ride they never asked to board.