A bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida immediately had to shut its doors after being packed with maskless crowds at its official reopening.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that after weeks of being shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the bar had to close due to customers violating pandemic-related rules.
Over the weekend, The Wharf Fort Lauderdale was filled with people drinking, dancing, and ignoring social distancing guidelines. Reports say county code officers had to break up the partying.
“If they’re not making patrons wear masks, they’re leaving us no option other than to shut them down,” Broward Mayor Steve Geller said.
“Our goal is not to shut down businesses. It’s to get compliance. If we have to shut down businesses that are intentionally violating our laws, maybe that will send a message. They have to obey our orders for the safety of the public.”
Dr. Ralph Levy, a doctor who works by the bar, walked by the establishment on its opening day and was shocked by the partygoers not wearing face masks.
“As a doctor who has gone through this since March, it was disheartening. The place was packed, everybody was close together,” Levy added,
On Sunday, county officials who visited the bar several times on Saturday night confirmed that the business was violating COVID-19 guidelines.
Officials say The Wharf was letting customers in without a face mask and reported that the bar didn’t have a plexiglass divider. However, the business said that they didn’t have any guests enter the bar without a mask. If a patron did not have a face mask, the bouncer at the door would give them a mask.
“Once inside the open-air venue, guests chose to ignore the rules and congregated near the main bar despite over an acre of property where they could socially distance,” the bar said in a statement.
Emilio Guerra, co-owner of the bar, said his business had to close down due to the county’s forced guidelines.