Florida bans alcohol consumption in bars as virus spirals

Florida banned alcohol consumption at its bars on Friday as the coronavirus threatened to spiral out of control in the state.

The move came as Florida's daily confirmed coronavirus cases neared 9,000, a new record almost double the previous mark set just two days earlier.

The Florida agency that governs bars announced the alcohol ban on Twitter just minutes after the Department of Health reported 8,942 new confirmed cases, topping the previous record of 5,500 set on Wednesday.

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A security guard checks the temperature of a man at the entrance of a restaurant on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24, 2020. - With coronavirus cases surging across the US South and West, officials are once again imposing tough measures, from stay-at-home advice in worst-hit states to quarantines to protect recovering areas like New York. Nearly half of the 50 US states have seen an increase in infections over the past two weeks, with some -- such as Texas and Florida -- posting daily records. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
A group of women sits at the Miami Beach, Florida on June 26, 2020. - They are itching for a good time after months of lockdown, and may the coronavirus be damned: young adults in Florida are fueling a dangerous rise in COVID-19 infections. Feeling immortal, these fun-crazed people are finding ways to gather and party even though many bars and nightclubs remain closed as the Sunshine State reopened its economy this month. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
A group of women dance as they celebrate bachelorette party on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 26, 2020. - They are itching for a good time after months of lockdown, and may the coronavirus be damned: young adults in Florida are fueling a dangerous rise in COVID-19 infections. Feeling immortal, these fun-crazed people are finding ways to gather and party even though many bars and nightclubs remain closed as the Sunshine State reopened its economy this month. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
FLORIDA, USA - JUNE 26: A health worker is seen at a walk-up COVID-19 testing center in Miami Beach, Florida, United States on June 26, 2020. (Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - JUNE 26: Tattoo artist Caio Chermont gives a customer a tattoo at Atomic Tattoos in the Ybor City neighborhood on June 26, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. Florida surpasses previous single-day high for positive coronavirus cases on Friday, recording 8,942 new infections over the course of 24 hours, according to Florida Department of Health statistics. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - JUNE 26: Tattoo artist Mike Garner gives Melissa Rosario tattoo on her neck at Atomic Tattoos in the Ybor City neighborhood on June 26, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. Florida surpasses previous single-day high for positive coronavirus cases on Friday, recording 8,942 new infections over the course of 24 hours, according to Florida Department of Health statistics. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - JUNE 26: Lora Bonjaku prepress a cheesesteak at Due Amici Pizza & Pasta Bar in the Ybor City neighborhood at on June 26, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. Florida has suspended the consumption of alcohol at bars, but not restaurants, amid a surge in the positive coronavirus cases according to a tweet by Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Friday. Florida surpasses previous single-day high for positive coronavirus cases on Friday, recording 8,942 new infections over the course of 24 hours, according to Florida Department of Health statistics. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - JUNE 26: Raymond Diez finishes a cocktail drink at Carmines Ybor Italian restaurant on June 26, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. Florida has suspended the consumption of alcohol at bars, but not restaurants, amid a surge in the positive coronavirus cases according to a tweet by Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Friday. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
People pose for a photo inside a restaurant on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 26, 2020. - They are itching for a good time after months of lockdown, and may the coronavirus be damned: young adults in Florida are fueling a dangerous rise in COVID-19 infections. Feeling immortal, these fun-crazed people are finding ways to gather and party even though many bars and nightclubs remain closed as the Sunshine State reopened its economy this month. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - JUNE 26: Courtney Conklin wore a face mask before having lunch at Carmines Ybor Italian restaurant on June 26, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. Florida has suspended the consumption of alcohol at bars, but not restaurants, amid a surge in the positive coronavirus cases according to a tweet by Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Friday. Florida surpasses previous single-day high for positive coronavirus cases on Friday, recording 8,942 new infections over the course of 24 hours, according to Florida Department of Health statistics. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
A tourit makes a selfie with a cloud of Saharan dust over a beach in the background in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, on June 25, 2020. - A massive cloud of Saharan dust invaded Cancun beaches Thursday and began to affect air quality in Florida, sparking warnings to people with respiratory illnesses to stay home. (Photo by ELIZABETH RUIZ / AFP) (Photo by ELIZABETH RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Workers complete a "Black Lives Matter" mural in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, June 26, 2020. The 400-foot mural stretches along downtown's prominent Rosalind Avenue in front of Lake Eola Park, between Washington Street and Robinson Street. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - JUNE 25: Adriana Cardenas, a medical technologist processes test samples for the coronavirus at the AdventHealth Tampa labs on June 25, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. Florida is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, as the state reached a new record for single-day infections on Wednesday with 5,511 new cases. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - JUNE 25: A University of South Florida (USF) Health administrator talks to a driver at a coronavirus testing site at the Lee Davis Community Resource Center on June 25, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. The USF Health system partnered with the Hillsborough County Government to provide coronavirus testing at several location sites throughout the county. Florida is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, as the state reached a new record for single-day infections on Wednesday with 5,511 new cases. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - JUNE 25: A healthcare worker hands off a coronavirus testing sample for processing at the Lee Davis Community Resource Center on June 25, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. The USF Health system partnered with the Hillsborough County Government to provide coronavirus testing at several location sites throughout the county. Florida is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, as the state reached a new record for single-day infections on Wednesday with 5,511 new cases. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
People walk on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24, 2020. - With coronavirus cases surging across the US South and West, officials are once again imposing tough measures, from stay-at-home advice in worst-hit states to quarantines to protect recovering areas like New York. Nearly half of the 50 US states have seen an increase in infections over the past two weeks, with some -- such as Texas and Florida -- posting daily records. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
People enjoy the beach in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24, 2020. - With coronavirus cases surging across the US South and West, officials are once again imposing tough measures, from stay-at-home advice in worst-hit states to quarantines to protect recovering areas like New York. Nearly half of the 50 US states have seen an increase in infections over the past two weeks, with some -- such as Texas and Florida -- posting daily records. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical personnel member takes samples on a man at a "walk-in" and "drive-through" coronavirus testing site in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24, 2020. - With coronavirus cases surging across the US South and West, officials are once again imposing tough measures, from stay-at-home advice in worst-hit states to quarantines to protect recovering areas like New York. Nearly four months after the United States reported its first death from COVID-19, the nation faces a deepening health crisis as a wave of infections hits young Americans and experts issue new acute warnings. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
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Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced he would sign an executive order closing beaches in the county over the Fourth of July weekend.

"I have decided that the only prudent thing to do to tamp down this recent uptick is to crack down on recreational activities that put our overall community at higher risk," he said in a statement.

State officials have attributed much of the new outbreak to young adults flocking to bars after they reopened in most of the state three weeks ago, with many of them ignoring social distancing restrictions aimed at lowering the virus's spread.

Global coronavirus cases and deaths
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Bars, like restaurants, were supposed to limit patrons to 50% of their normal capacity, under the state's emergency orders. Patrons had to sit at tables, with groups six feet apart. No congregating at the bar or on the dance floor was permitted.

The new order prohibits any establishment that makes more than 50% of its revenue from alcohol sales from serving alcohol for consumption on site.

Restaurants that primarily sell food can still serve alcohol to customers seated at tables.

Business and Professional Regulations Secretary Halsey Beshears said he issued the order because too many bars and patrons were breaking the rules, overwhelming his department's inspectors.

"This was more than we could keep up with," Mr Beshears said.

He said people got tired of being cooped up and maybe thought the threat of coronavirus had lessened because news coverage shifted to the protests caused by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

"People in general just wanted to get out and experience a normalcy," he said. He said there was no timetable for rescinding the order.

More than 24,000 new cases have been reported statewide since last Saturday, more than a fifth of the 111,724 cases confirmed in the state since March 1. The death toll climbed on Friday to 3,366, a one-day increase of 39.

Governor Ron DeSantis said on Friday that he still did not plan to issue a statewide order requiring masks, saying this was best handled at the county and city level.

Miami, other cities and several counties including Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Orange are requiring masks in public places.

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