By Ty Russell

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There’s some confusion Tuesday night surrounding a new order requiring hotels in Miami Beach to stay closed. That’s because for some families a hotel room is their home.

Miami Beach police officers and code enforcement visited the Bellamar Hotel Tuesday, nearly 24 hours after an emergency order closing hotels citywide because of the coronavirus.

The Bellamar, located on 31st Street near Collins Avenue, is not a spot popular for visitors, like those on spring break. Instead, as one man described, the guests at the hotel are more like residents.

“There are people living here – families, children, older people,” Jose Martinez said.

Martinez showed CBS4’s Ty Russell a letter that stated guests needed to leave by 11 p.m. Tuesday. He said the letter was given to him by police. It also stated there were two places for them to stay nearby during the emergency order.

“These people are like my family. I’ve been here since 2005,” a property manager said.

A hotel manager admits he didn’t follow the city’s order. He said there are several long-term guests treating this hotel as their permanent residence. One man has been here for 17 years.

“How are we going to tell him he has to go? He has no family here. The same is with the rest of the people,” he said.

A city spokesperson sent CBS4 the following statement:

“To ensure the wellbeing and safety of our community, the City of Miami Beach made the difficult choice of closing all of its hotels. We cannot risk the spread of COVID-19 in our community and believe it critical to maintain the health and security of Miami Beach. As of 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 23, 2020, by order of the City Manager, all hotels had to close and their guests were given ample opportunity to move to other hotels in Miami-Dade County. Hotels that didn’t adhere to the City Manager’s Order were visited by the Police and Code officers to ensure compliance and to protect the community and the hotel guests and staff.

“It has come to our attention that a few of the occupants of the Bellamar Hotel have been residing long-term and we want to ensure that their living conditions are reasonable and safe for long-term residence. It is not our intention to remove individuals that have been staying at the establishment long-term if their living conditions are satisfactory. However, if guests have only been at the Bellamar Hotel for a short-period of time, we are committed to working with displaced hotel guests to find safe accommodations.”

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Ty Russell