No drinking after 9? St. Pete restricts bars, restaurants to combat coronavirus

Mayor Rick Kriseman announced a sweeping order on Monday aimed at limiting gatherings throughout the city.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced sweeping measures on Monday to combat the spread of coronavirus within the city. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced sweeping measures on Monday to combat the spread of coronavirus within the city. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published March 16, 2020|Updated March 17, 2020

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ST. PETERSBURG — Normally a 3 a.m. city, St. Petersburg will shut down early for the foreseeable future.

Until further notice, last call for alcohol is will be at 9 p.m. due to concerns surrounding coronavirus, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Monday.

“Late night revelry in this city will simply not be allowed,” he said.

He said liquor licenses will be at risk for establishments that don’t comply, and that he reserved the right to “move to a complete closure."

The liquor announcement, delivered via Facebook Live so as not to gather reporters and the public, was included in a sweeping directive to help stop the spread of the virus within the city.

The virus, technically known as COVID-19, causes flu-like symptoms like fever and respiratory distress and is transmitted in water droplets from things like coughs and sneezes. With an incubation period of several weeks, people can unknowingly carry the virus before experiencing symptoms.

While not usually fatal, the virus can be deadly to the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions.

The mayor also announced an outright ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, on public or private property.

That directive echoes guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Sunday night that recommended against large gatherings for eight weeks. Kriseman’s orders prevent festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events and even weddings.

“We will enforce this,” Kriseman said. "We disperse crowds. We ask that you do not force us to do this and waste precious resources.”

Kriseman’s directive also targeted businesses more broadly. Starting Tuesday at noon, capacity at bars and restaurants, in gyms and fitness centers, in bowling alleys and on the Cross-Bay Ferry will be cut in half.

The mayor also said City Council meetings are canceled through April 9, and that all board and committee meetings are canceled until further notice. Public services like the libraries, city pools, neighborhood recreation centers and the Enoch Davis Center and the Sunshine Center are also closed until further notice.

While parks and the waterfront won’t be closed, Kriseman encouraged people to keep their distance, and he said playground and exercise equipment will be deep-cleaned.

Also, in a reversal from guidance issue last week, Kriseman said the city will allow more city employees to work from home. That comes after a March 12 memo, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, which said even employees most “vulnerable” and “susceptible” to the dangers of coronavirus could not log in remotely from home as a preventative measure without being charged vacation or time off.

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