A bar in Fort Lauderdale was forced to shut down one day after it reopened because unmasked partygoers crowded the business, violating COVID-19 protocols.
The Wharf Fort Lauderdale reopened its doors on Friday after months of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday, The Wharf was forced to close its doors once again, with Broward County citing the bar for multiple COVID-19 violations.
The Wharf Fort Lauderdale was packed with unmasked partygoers over the weekend
There were very few masks in sight and social distancing appeared to be very limited too
The bar was open on Friday and Saturday for the first time in eight months due to the pandemic
One image of The Wharf shows the bar packed with partygoers with very few masks in sight, despite them being a requirement to enter the bar, and no social distancing taking place.
There are now fears the reopening of The Wharf will become the next superspreader event to strike Florida.
An Instagram user posted video of the bar during the reopening, showing dozens of people packed into a small area.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, county code officers ordered The Wharf to shut down for 24 hours at 11pm on Saturday night.
The bar has decided to take that shutdown a step further by remaining closed until they can open again in a way that will be conducive to the environment they’d like to promote.
The mass of partygoers, however, resulted in three separate violations from Broward County
‘I don’t have an exact timeline for [reopening],’ part owner Emilio Guerra told the Sun-Sentinel.
‘Our goal is to work through this and work with the powers that be to get clear guidance and understanding as to how we are supposed to operate.’
On Sunday, The Wharf posted on Instagram: ‘Unfortunately, due to the statewide spike in cases and local regulations, we will be temporarily shutting down. We will reopen when we are able to provide the proper experience for you at our beautiful outdoor venue.’
Guerra told the newspaper that the bar was cited three times over the course of Saturday – once at 2pm, once at 5pm, and again at 7pm.
Those citations were various violations, including a lack of masks, which bar employees were expected to enforce, and a lack of Plexiglass dividers for each of the bars.
By the end of Saturday night, the bar was forced to close and will remain closed going forward
The bar owner expressed disappointment on behalf of his 125 employees about the closure
‘They’re destroyed,’ Guerra said of the 125 employees who work at the bar. ‘A lot of these people haven’t worked in eight months. This hurts us mostly because of the effect this is going to have on them. It’s catastrophic for them.’
Dr. Ralph Levy, who walked by the bar on Friday night, told the Sun-Sentinel: ‘As a doctor who has gone through this since March it was disheartening. The place was packed, everybody was close together.’
‘It’s insane,’ said County Commissioner Dale Holness. ‘I expect people to be more conscious of the effect this disease is having on our lives.’
‘The young kids who went there were not worried about the virus spreading,’ Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said. ‘The operators did the right thing, and we appreciate that. It sends a message that we must all take personal responsibility for protecting one another.’
Coronavirus cases are spiking across the United States as the country endures a new wave of the virus, with Florida being particularly hard hit.
The Wharf Fort Lauderdale is pictured during the daytime in this stock image
Coronavirus cases are surging across the United States, with 918,000 cases in Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis has previously resisted pleas for him to put Florida under new lockdown orders.
Broward County alone has issued 2,138 warnings to businesses that have been found in violation of COVID-19 protocols, with over 1,000 businesses cited for not following social-distancing regulations.
There have been over 918,000 cases in Florida – including 55,250 in the last seven days – and over 17,000 deaths.
The CDC reports there have now been over 12 million positive cases and 255,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States.