ORLANDO, Fla. — After citations over the weekend to four bars, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said late Monday that so-called compliance strike teams would step up enforcement of COVID-19 safety protocols at bars and nightclubs.
What You Need To Know
- 4 bars to receive citations after COVID-19 strike team visits over the weekend
- One of the bars, The Knight's Pub, had liquor license suspended in June 2020
- Strike team member to Knight's Pub manager: "This is completely unacceptable"
- County Mayor Demings said strike teams would step up enforcement at bars, nightclubs
“Bars and nightclubs are falling behind,” he said.
Strike teams visited four Orange County bars from Friday to Sunday, and they found none in compliance, Demings said — leading to citations for The Knight’s Pub, Knight Library, Infynity Knight Club, and Tin Roof.
“So guess what?” Demings said during a regular coronavirus news briefing, emphasizing the 0-for-4 compliance performance. “We’re going to be visiting bars and night clubs this week."
The Knight’s Pub, Knight Library, and Infynity Knight Club — all located near the UCF campus — were among 11 bars to which strike teams paid surprise visits in November and found none in compliance.
Soon afterward, Demings signed an emergency executive order that gave the strike teams authority to fine businesses for not following basic safety guidelines.
Strike teams again visited The Knight’s Pub and Knight Library on Saturday, according to an Orange County government spreadsheet that details fines and warnings.
The spreadsheet did not include weekend visits to Infynity Knight Club and Tin Roof. Demings mentioned those visits and citations — in addition to those for The Knight’s Pub and Knight Library — at the Monday news briefing.
He emphasized the need for businesses to require workers and patrons to wear masks and to practice social distancing.
“We have resolved that we’re going to be relentless” in requiring those measures, Demings said.
At The Knight’s Pub, strike team members “observed well over 100 people outside waiting in a line to get into the pub,” according to comments on the government spreadsheet. The comments noted “some patrons in masks but most not. (The) line was about 4 people wide and around 100ft long.”
Comments on the spreadsheet added that “everyone seen on the deck and going in and out of the buildings were without masks.” The comments said the strike team advised the bar manager that “this is completely unacceptable...”
Last June, The Knight's Pub had its liquor license suspended after more than 40 people, including patrons and employees, contracted the coronavirus soon after the state allowed bars to reopen with certain safety protocols in place.
At Knight Library, strike team members said they “observed patio area with multiple people not in masks and walking around.” In the bar, “the majority of patrons were without masks and no social distancing.” Outside the bar, strike team members “observed group of patrons allowed in bar without mask,” according to comments on the government spreadsheet.
The citations carry $300 fines.
Demings’s emergency order leaves room for increased fines — rising to as high as $15,000 per violation if “a special magistrate finds a violation to be irreparable or irreversible in nature,” according to the order.
Strike teams also issued warnings to 12 businesses last week, according to the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet classified those businesses, like the four that received citations, in a category of restaurants, bars and food.
The latest county data show that strike teams have seen an 88% first-visit compliance rate and a 99% overall compliance rate after visits to 6,648 businesses.
They’ve issued 21 citations and 103 warnings, Demings said. Those include a range of businesses, including convenience stores, auto dealerships, auto-repair shops, fast-food restaurants, and bars and nightclubs.
Regarding bars and nightclubs, he said, “those types of business, they can anticipate (visits from strike teams) at any given time. That’s what we have to do and we’re going to continue to do.”