By Frances Wang

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On Friday, the city of Miami Beach held a special virtual city commission meeting. Miami Beach residents were allowed to make comments or ask questions via Zoom. Many also tuned in on Facebook.

While some supported the city commission’s cautious approach, others called for businesses and beaches to re-open sooner than later.

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“Today, the city commission continued the same position we’ve been in which is we’re trying to go at a level that doesn’t rush us into reopening,” said Mayor Gelber, adding they’re using data, metrics, and experts to guide their plan.

Some residents supported a motion made by city commissioner Ricky Arriola to open up beaches at certain times. The motion didn’t move forward, with no support from other commissioners.

“[Many people] say let’s just open it up and see,” said Mayor Gelber. We can’t enforce 7.5 miles of beaches [or] put police every 50 yards.”

On Wednesday, the first day parks and marinas re-opened, more than 650 people without masks on Miami Beach were given verbal warnings by park rangers. Dozens were also reminded of the need to social distance.

On Thursday, nearly 900 were at Miami Beach parks without face masks and 76 people were asked to leave parks after closing time.

“Beaches are a different story. They do attract so many people that it’s hard to practice any of those healthy measure,” he said.

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City attorneys say beaches can’t legally be re-opened to just residents. Mayor Gelber also pointed out that if health measures aren’t followed by people in parks or marinas, city managers will have to re-evaluate on keeping those open.

Even when Miami Beach can re-open, Mayor Gelber said people must feel safe.

“If people don’t feel comfortable traveling or visiting hotels, restaurants, [bars or venues], it’s not going to matter what we do,” he said.

The city’s focus is on managing the virus through contract tracing and surveillance testing in the community. Within the next week, a new testing site will open at the Miami Beach Convention Center for walk-up or drive-through testing.

“Time to get treatment options, or vaccines God willing,” said Mayor Gelber. “That’s the kind of things we’re hoping for.”

“Our structure is intact. The spirit of our city is intact. Our attractiveness is intact,” he added. “Those things for the long-haul are still there…we’re going to return to the kind of city we’ve had, hopefully even better.”

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Frances Wang