Florida’s breweries are bearing the brunt of an executive order that prohibits on-site consumption of alcohol, and they’re urging the state to do something about it.
Florida Brewers Guild, a non-profit trade organization comprised of hundreds of Florida breweries, wrote a letter this week to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation, looking for help.
“The entire Florida Craft Brewing industry is now in jeopardy,” the letter says.
“We will work your administration in any way, but we MUST find a way to our people back to work. Please help us put together a plan that safely reopens our industry.”
The June 20 letter came from a Twitter feed posted by Spectrum News, News 13 in Orlando.
Last month the state created an executive order that prohibits all on-site consumption of alcohol, meaning most breweries are existing entirely on “to-go” orders and curb-side pick-up.
Since then, bars across Florida have filed lawsuits against DeSantis and the DBPR, including several Orlando bar owners who claim the order is unconstitutional because it removes their right to make a living, according to a WFTV9 story earlier this month.
Rob Regan serves on the Board of Directors of the Florida Brewers Guild, and said that the letter is simply asking DeSantis and Beshears to help figure out a safe way to reopen the Florida brewery industry.
“We don’t want any special privileges,” Regan said in a conversation with the Florida Phoenix. “We just want to be able to open and operate in a safe way in accordance to the CDC guidelines and any other recommended health measures that we can take to protect our customers, employees, and the community.”
Regan said that breweries “operate much more like a restaurant, and not very much like a bar.”
He said that the executive order was a surprise to the industry, and the economic impact has been worse than they thought.
“We were able to weather that for a short period time,” Regan said. “Once it was made clear to us by the officials at the DBPR that this was going to go on, perhaps indefinitely, we knew that many of our businesses would not survive.”
The Department of Professional & Business Regulation responded to the Phoenix on Friday, saying in a written statement:
“Florida’s brewers are among the many local businesses that have been important community partners in our statewide efforts to respond to the challenges of this pandemic, and they will continue to be a welcomed perspective on the steps we can take together in moving Florida forward in this recovery.”
“The Department is monitoring the circumstances daily as we look for more opportunities to get businesses open and operating safely.”
Regan said he’d like to see the brewing industry reopen with safety measures in place to protect customers, employees, and the community.
“What we would like to see, which is what we wanted all along, is the ability to be treated like any other business,” he said. “If we could at least be open with protective measures in place, that would be a tremendous lift on our members.”