TAMPA — Requiring patrons to wear masks, socially distance and remain seated is no easy task for bar owners.
But three businesses that have been cited twice for violating those coronavirus restrictions are now headed to City Council, to plead that their ability to serve booze not be suspended — or completely stripped away.
The popular SoHo watering hole, MacDinton’s, 405 S. Howard Ave., and two Ybor City establishments, Tangra, 1611 E. 7th Ave., and Ybor Cigars Plus, 1725 E. 7th Ave, will be required to go before council members, which, under the city’s charter, has the final say over liquor licenses.
Mayor Jane Castor announced the latest escalation against violators in an early Wednesday news release.
“Over the last several months, we have erred on the side of education and encouragement while relying heavily on the responsibility of our residents to help pull us out of this pandemic and come back stronger than ever. And while the vast majority of our businesses and residents are acting responsibly, we can’t allow a few bad actors to compromise and lengthen the recovery efforts for an entire community,” Castor said.
The city has conducted a seven-month public education and awareness campaign to spread the word among bar owners, said spokewoman Ashley Bauman. The city also recently partnered with Safe & Sound, a national group of restaurant and bar owners that encourage safe business practices.
The threat of pulling liquor licenses comes less than a week after a raucous New Year’s Eve in Ybor City, where packed bars were widely shown in local and social media as flouting the local coronavirus orders. Code inspectors didn’t work that night because they aren’t trained to handle potentially threatening situations, Bauman said.
Since Jan. 1, inspectors have conducted 154 inspections and issued six citations.
An earlier effort in December, after Castor organized a regional effort to crack down on violations, netted a dozen violations.
This is a developing story. Check back for developments at tampabay.com.
• • •
HOW CORONAVIRUS IS SPREADING IN FLORIDA: Find the latest numbers for your county, city or zip code.
VACCINES Q & A: Have coronavirus vaccine questions? We have answers, Florida.
GET THE DAYSTARTER MORNING UPDATE: Sign up to receive the most up-to-date information.
A TRIBUTE TO THE FLORIDIANS TAKEN BY THE CORONAVIRUS: They were parents and retirees, police officer and doctors, imperfect but loved deeply.
HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips
We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.