As restaurants, bars re-open amid coronavirus, CDC study urges caution

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MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — Bars and restaurants that have been closed for months are getting the green light to reopen in certain parts of the country.

The reopenings come as the CDC released a new study Friday that says participants who tested positive for COVID-19 “were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative test results.”

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis announced bars can officially reopen on Monday in most parts of the state, not including South Florida. Only 50% capacity will be allowed.

DeSantis insists reopening businesses does not lead to more coronavirus cases.

“Remember Disney reopened at the peak of our infections. And what happened from there? It went down from that second week of July all the way until the present. So we are ready for what happens,” Gov. DeSantis said.

Louisiana’s governor made a similar announcement Friday. Bars will also reopen there with restrictions.

“Bars will be able to open at 25 percent capacity up to 50 people total indoors. Customers will have to be seated for tableside service only,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

Bars in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and parts of Indiana and Pennsylvania are also reopening.

“We are still here. We want to give them the safest and most fun environment we possibly can. We do have so much hand sanitizer. All the precautions will be taken,” bartender Yasmine Harvey said.

But even with precautions, the CDC says going to a restaurant or bar may heighten your risk of getting COVID-19 because you have to take your mask off to eat or drink.

In terms of whether to go to bars, Northwestern University epidemiologist Dr. Sadiya Khan said: “I think that is a tough question to answer yes or no in terms of safety. I would not do it. In terms of removing a mask and being in a crowded area…that is a place you are more likely to transmit COVID.”

Even with permission to reopen, some bar owners say all the rules and restrictions make it hard to make money.

“We were going to try and open up for Monday Night Football because this is a sports bar. Now there really is no need to. The games don’t start until 9:15 and if you cannot serve any alcohol after 10 o’clock there is just no use in staying open,” bar owner Mike Luciano said.

As for the CDC study, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association calls it irresponsible and misleading. They say there is no way to know for sure where the participants contracted COVID-19.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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