PHOTO: Popular Florida party spot raises age limit to curb spring breakers

By , RADIO.COM

While coronavirus cases continue to decrease across the nation, one Florida bar is changing its rules during the spring break season.

The Wharf in Fort Lauderdale posted an announcement on its official Instagram page that it will only serve out-of-state customers who are 23 years old and up through the end of March.

“During Spring Break season #WharfFTL will be 23+ for all guests with out-of-state ID 😄 #KnotWorking 👉General Admission & walk-ups are welcome💙 however, we will be operating at reduced capacity. For guaranteed admission, please reserve a table by visiting us at wharfftl.com, calling us at (954) 372-7606 or emailing hello@wharfftl.com.😷 Masks must be worn at all times while walking through common areas and when not eating or drinking," the caption reads.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, college students flooded the beaches this week, but The Wharf had a socially distanced crowd.

Back in November, The Wharf immediately had to shut its doors after being packed with maskless crowds at its official reopening.

The bar 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.

County officials who visited the bar several times 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.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN that spring break could be the "perfect storm" for triggering a spread of the new COVID-19 variant.

“You’ve got the B.1.1.7 variant accelerating in Florida. You’ve got all these 20-year-old kids,” he said.

“None of them are going to have masks. They’re all going to be drinking. They’re having pretty close, intimate contact. And then, after that’s all done, they’re going to go back to their home states and spread the B.1.1.7 variant," he added.

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