Free masks for hospitality workers as Florida bars reopen

It’s been a long, slow summer at the Victorian House Bed and Breakfast in downtown St. Augustine.

Owner Anthony Sexton commented, “July was pretty scary looking, August was pretty scary.”

He said things are looking up for the fall, and keeping employees healthy is key to recouping income lost because of coronavirus.

“We’re small businesses, so we can’t afford to get sick. We’re the ones who run the business. We depend on our employees like no one else does,” explained Sexton.

Bars in Florida reopened Monday at 50% capacity.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association handed out 50,000 free, reusable masks for hospitality workers in Northeast Florida.

Philip McDaniel, co-founder of St. Augustine Distillery said, “Our employees are our family. If one of them gets sick, we’d probably have to close or change the business dramatically.”

Employees said they go through a lot of masks, and the small gesture is a big help.

Georgian Barron, an employee at Casa Monica, said, “At first I didn’t care, but now I think it’s very important. You don’t know who you’re hanging out with or who’s around you. It’s important.”

According to Sexton, masks make it possible to stay afloat during the pandemic.

He said, “Having the masks gives the customers the confidence to come out and see us.”

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association will hand out masks at the following locations:

  • Tuesday: Sight and Sound Productions, 3636 Beachwood Ct. from 9:30 a.m. – noon
  • Wednesday: Amelia Island

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