Department clarifies sale of alcohol under latest Executive Order

During the coronavirus pandemic, Historic City News has reported extraordinary actions that have been ordered by our government at the local and statewide level.  Those include restaurant and bar provisions covered by Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order last week.

The order closed restaurants for dining in, but then extended an authority they never had.  Provided the proprietor has an alcohol license, alcoholic beverages may be included in carry-out or delivery orders of food.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has also published guidelines clarifying many other parts of the Governor’s order, including a point that many diners and restaurants might overlook.

“Unless otherwise permitted by law, the sale of alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for consumption off-premises requires the containers to be sealed by the manufacturer,”

In what some locals are calling the “Lazy Sands Restriction” you specifically cannot get mixed drinks in plastic cups in to-go orders from your favorite restaurant.  Carry-out or delivery alcoholic beverages have to be in sealed containers. Sealed bottles. Sealed cans. Sealed by the bottling plant.  That rules out any drink that must be mixed at a bar. Nothing can be sold from a tap. Nothing poured from an open bottle.

It’s not the only point being clarified that might surprise some consumers. Among other advisories included in the published guidelines, Frequently Asked Questions Related to Restaurants and Alcoholic Beverage Vendors include:

— Restaurants with alcohol licenses may send sealed alcoholic beverages out for delivery by third-party delivery services.

— Customers may enter restaurants, but they may not consume food and beverages in the restaurant, and restaurants should prevent the congregating of customers in the restaurant.

— Restaurant managers have to become health care workers: They must meet each employee outside the restaurant before each shift, then evaluate the employee for obvious signs of illness. Managers must send the employee home if symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, or signs of a respiratory infection, are directly observed.

— Managers also should prohibit any employee from entering the restaurant if the employee answers “yes” to questions about: experiencing signs or symptoms; had any close contact with any person who has been confirmed infected with COVID-19; has returned from international travel or a cruise within 14 days; has returned from travel to an area known for high numbers of cases, including New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, within the last 14 days.

— Airport terminals are exempted from on-site dining bans, provided the vendors adhere to “enhanced precautionary measures.”

— A restaurant that has had its alcoholic-beverages license suspended can still sell to-go food.