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The citizens of Miami have historically responded to hardship by banding together and tackling obstacles from a unified front. Although no one could have foreseen the effect that the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, would have on the nation, it is not surprising that Miamians have continued to look out for one another during this difficult time. The hospitality industry, however, has not seen as much solidarity and support from statewide officials. As record-breaking COVID-19 cases and deaths occur throughout South Florida, bars and restaurants currently face a new round of quarantine orders and lockdown measures. Though this aggressive and cautious approach aids against the long, arduous fight between members of the South Florida community and the virus, it also threatens to put the final nail into the hospitality industry’s coffin.
Restaurants and bars had already experienced closure when the city first implemented social distancing measures back in March. Further, during the week of May 30th, according to the “COVID-19 Updates” section of Miami Dade County’s official website, “the City of Miami launched the Restaurant Recovery Program, which allows local restaurants to temporarily add or expand outdoor seating areas while still meeting mandatory social distancing rules. The program was created in an effort to help Miami restaurants get up and running following the COVID-19 shutdown.”
In addition to this program, the Miami Downtown Development Authority(DDA) is also helping businesses in the downtown area by providing free permits for outdoor seating, umbrellas, masks, and even by assisting with marketing support. On the other hand, there does not seem to be any such program and assistance for bars. On June 26th, Halsey Beshears, the secretary of Florida’s Department of Business & Professional Regulation tweeted about the suspension of the consumption of alcohol across bars statewide. This decision has been met with confusion and frustration because restaurants have been allowed to operate at a limited capacity. Dissimilarly, few bars have not been allowed to operate at all, specifically sending a devastating blow to the bar industry.
Currently, restaurants and bars are being closed again despite many of these establishments adhering to reopening guidelines. It is too soon to tell whether this decision will change the hospitality industry as we have known it. Yet, many bartenders and business owners have taken matters into their own hands in order to survive the pandemic. To support the restaurant industry, go to SaveRestaurants.com and tell Congress to pass the Restaurants Act. To support local Miami bars, be aware that some bars like Lost Boy have changed their business models to operate as liquor stores. Also, these bars not only sell liquor but also some craft cocktails. Bartenders have begun their entrepreneurship journeys by selling cocktail mixers. Mixology Ice also started a new business called Rico Box, selling vegetables. It seems that statewide financial support, innovation, and entrepreneurship may be the only way to save the hospitality industry.