Fort Myers businesses balance caution with celebration on St. Patrick’s Day

Even though millions of people are vaccinated and Florida is open, there is still a push to stay safe while celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Today, Dr. Larry Antonucci with Lee Health will have a media briefing on COVID-19 and where we stand. He’ll also warn people ahead of the festivities tonight: Going out and celebrating doesn’t come without risks.

But in downtown Fort Myers, a lot of bars and restaurants are just happy that this year’s St. Patrick’s Day look different than last years.

One year ago today, bars and restaurants were uncertain of their future, unsure of when they would safely be able to open again. Fort Myers Brewing Company, like many others, lost more than half of its revenue overnight—some lost everything. So the company is grateful to be able to be open today, even if there are some modifications.

“It won’t look like St. Patrick’s Day in years past,” said Jen Whyte, owner of Fort Myers Brewing Company. “We’ve taken very much the approach of continuing social distancing; our staff is still in masks; you can see that we still have plexiglass up. We’re doing everything we can to protect our staff, protect our guests and protect the community, but we still are open.”

Whyte said they had 16 employees last year; now they have 29, so it’s proof of how far they’ve come. Today, they’ll be celebrating that with live music and food trucks.

“We’re just doing everything we can to keep everybody comfortable,” Whyte said. “So if you feel like we’re fully on the other side of this, you can have a seat inside, but if you’re still wary, you can spread out outside or you can grab beer to go and take it home.”

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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