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Florida Bans On-site Drinking at Bars as COVID-19 Numbers Spike

Lines of cars wait at a coronavirus testing site outside of Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami Gardens, Fla., June 26, 2020.

The U.S. state of Florida has banned consumption of alcohol at its bars just minutes after the state health department reported a record 8,942 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in one day.

Florida Secretary of Business and Professional Regulation Halsey Beshears announced on Twitter that, effective immediately, he was suspending on-premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide. Beshears' agency is responsible for governing bars.

There was no indication bars were ordered to completely close. Under the stay-at-home orders issued earlier this year, bars could sell alcohol to go. Restaurants had recently been allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity inside and no limits outside.

State officials have attributed much of the new outbreak to young adults flocking to bars after they reopened in most of the state about a month ago, with many of them ignoring social distancing restrictions aimed at lowering the virus's spread.

At a news conference earlier Friday, before the record-setting new COVID-19 numbers were released, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis would not comment on when the state would begin the next phase of its reopening. He stressed wearing masks, avoiding big crowds and maintaining distance from others indoors to avoid the virus.

The Florida Department of Health reports more than 24,000 new confirmed cases have been reported in the state since Saturday, more than a fifth of the total 122,960 cases confirmed since March 1. There have been 3,366 deaths since that time.

The department reports the seven-day average for positive tests dropped slightly to 13.4%, down 1 percentage point from Thursday but still triple the rate of 3.8% on June 1.