Collier County businesses react to new regulation suspending onsite alcohol consumption

Friday, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation suspended the consumption of alcohol on-site, meaning no drinking at a bar. This is the first major backtrack since the state began its phased reopening.

Business owners in Naples are worried about what tighter restrictions mean for their bars and restaurants. Bha Bha Bistro has a sign on its door that says in order to protect staff and customers, it will be closed until September.

“It’s not an easy decision,” said Michael Mir, the owner of Bha Bha Bistro. “You’re responsible for your guests when they come and eat. They basically leave them in your hands.”

Mir says you have to think about them as people because they have families too. “They have families, and they don’t want to take anything home with them. They have elderly people living in their house,” he said.

Because of the recent spike in cases, masks will be required for entry to even more businesses. Some believe that there could have been more done in the beginning so we wouldn’t be where we are now.

Heather Neils, the owner of Silver Eagle Gallery, said, “People haven’t been taking the precautions they should have been in the beginning, and now it’s really starting to have an impact.”

Neils has a sign on her door requiring masks. She also no longer allows customers to try on rings. She even has special equipment to keep her merchandise clean. “We actually have these UV wands that sanitize all the jewelry,” Neils said.

This cleaning precaution comes after Collier County recorded nearly 4,000 cases of coronavirus.

But some feel like it’s time to get back to normal, even with cases increasing.

Tom Linder, who is vacationing in Naples, said, “I think restaurant owners and bar owners are smart enough to be able to socially distance, and they should be allowed to do that. I think, again, you’re enforcing rules that are crushing the economy and crushing people’s lives. It’s not just the economy. It’s people’s lives and their livelihood.”

“Day by day, we lost a restaurant, we lost a bar, or whatever, and we had paid for a house and a vacation,” Linder said.

Neils admits she’s scared that these regulations mean we’re headed for yet another stay-at-home order.

“I think it’s definitely a political issue, and that’s really sad because people are going to lose lives over that,” she said. “I’m just afraid that, at this rate, we are headed for another lockdown.”

The health department says the number of positive cases in Collier County has stayed at or below 10% since the beginning of the pandemic. Friday’s positivity rate, however, is 11.9%.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Drew Hill
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