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Council member Blackmon successfully lobbies for clarification for dual-license businesses

Megan Holmes



St. Petersburg City Council member Robert Blackmon said that he spent much of the past week attempting to gain clarification around state reopening orders and the local enforcement of those orders for the local cigar bar Central Cigars. Finally, Thursday afternoon, Blackmon received an answer.

Despite deriving more than 50 percent of its sales revenue from non-liquor sales, much like restaurants, Central Cigars was told it would not be able to sell alcohol while reopening at the mandated 25 percent capacity.

“I’ve placed dozens of calls to state and local officials to try to resolve this quandary,” Blackmon wrote on Facebook. “However, these efforts have been frustrated by an inability of local officials to agree about the law.”


Many constituents, especially local business owners, are reaching out to me regarding their confusion and uncertainty…

Posted by Robert Blackmon on Thursday, May 14, 2020

“This leaves local businesses, like Central Cigars, in a terrible and unfair situation. I’m calling on the Governor and state officials to issue clear, straightforward guidelines for local businesses navigating the ‘Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.’ plan. If re-opening is successful it cannot just be individuals and businesses doing their part: Government at every level has to step up and provide clarity and certainty for the community.”

“After I posted this morning, tons of people reached out,” Blackmon told the St. Pete Catalyst. It was County Commissioner Kathleen Peters who finally reached out to the Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Halsey Beshears, in direct response Blackmon’s question.

Beshears issued the following statement:

“This is a RETAILER of Alcoholic Beverages and is not a bar, also since it is a DUAL license, this operator is allowed to be opened to sell any and all of its products, limiting indoor capacity to 25% of the building occupancy and allow outdoor seating to the maximum of its capacity as long as they are able to maintain social distancing. Please refer to the Governor’s Executive Order 112, Section 3, Part B and Section 4, Part A.

“We have had this question all over the state and have answered this consistently in this manner. If there are any more questions you may contact Michael Johnston who is Deputy Secretary of Professions so that he can clarify it with local authorities.”



It worked!

Thanks to our statement, and your shares, likes, comments, and outreach, Central Cigars…

Posted by Robert Blackmon on Thursday, May 14, 2020


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