State: 700 allowed to party at Tallahassee bar, violating COVID order

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 8:51 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2020 at 11:45 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - After video of a large crowd at Bajas Beachclub circulated on social media over the weekend, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation says it has suspended the nightclub’s alcohol license.

DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears said on Twitter Next Door Entertainment’s license was suspended Tuesday night after Bajas opened and operated as a nightclub, a direct violation of an emergency order issued on June 26 halting alcohol service statewide.

The suspension order says Bajas allowed approximately 700 people to consume alcoholic beverages in and around its premises on Saturday. The order also says the bar allowed patrons to bring and consume their own alcohol. It goes on to say the club’s continued operation “poses an immediate serious danger to public health, safety, or welfare...”

Posts on social media showed cars jamming the parking lot outside the West Pensacola club, and people drinking and dancing inside. An event posted to the Bajas social media page, which has since been deleted, promoted a birthday bash at the club.

Jasmine Hudson tells WCTV she was driving past the club when she saw a massive amount of cars in the parking lot Saturday night.

“I seen the parking lot were Bajas is was completely packed, I seen a lot of people outside. I heard that the inside was pretty packed and yeah I didn’t really see people wear masks” she said.

In a statement to WCTV, Bajas owner Simon Dag said:

A spokesman for DBPR says the agency received several complaints about the establishment.

Those were among 14 complaints against bars in Leon County since last Friday when the state prohibited on-site alcohol consumption.

DBPR says all of the complaints were investigated. This is the only action taken by the agency in Leon County so far.

DBPR secretary Halsey Beshears suspended on-premises consumption at bars Friday, saying it was the “prudent” step to arrest the state’s surge in COVID cases.

Bars had been operating since June 5, under guidelines calling for seated service only, and 50% capacity indoors.

The governor initially closed Florida bars and clubs on March 17 as one of the first steps in a statewide lockdown to try to stem the spread of coronavirus.

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