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First Coast bars ready to start serving cold ones to regulars in Phase 2

COVID-19 restrictions forced bars to close for almost three months.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Almost three years ago, Hurricane Irma flooded Sherwood’s Liquors in San Marco to belly button height -- it forced them to close for six months.

COVID-19 has had them closed for three months. So, the owners are no stranger to reopening procedures.

“This was something totally different... ya know when you’re closed by something you can’t look out the window and see," Sherwood's owner Raymond Lutzen said. "Who would have thought in your lifetime a pandemic would close your business?”

The open sign is ready to light up and invite regulars back to its bar stools for the first time since St. Patrick’s Day.

In fact, Lutzen has been running around the last two days to get the neighborhood pub ready – with new signs and cleaning measures.

“We’re happy with the governor’s decision -- Phase 2," he explained.

Sherwood’s will also have to remove its seating at the bar and keep a bouncer at the front who will make sure it stays at its 50 percent capacity limit.

Over in Jacksonville Beach, Southern Swells Brewing Co. has been ready for the past month to get beer flowing again in its taproom.

“We’re excited to see the familiar faces, and have them sit in there and have a pint of Karate," Co-owner Corey Adams said. Although, regulars will notice some changes like plastic cups instead of its normal beer glasses.

“Of all of the aspects of our business, washing the glassware poses the biggest risk for spreading germs from the guests to our staff," he explained. "So, we kind of got ahead of that."

Adams said Southern Swells was able to keep on its full-time bartenders with to-go and online orders. The brewery plans to continue those services, too.

Florida Governor DeSantis announced the start of Phase 2. Bars can reopen Friday with a 50% indoor capacity and full capacity outdoor seating with social distancing.