By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The announcement Friday that certain businesses that were closed due to COVID-19 in Homestead will be allowed to reopen on Monday, May 18th, with restrictions on capacity and requirements for social distancing was welcome news to many of its residents.

“We are a working-class community and the impact will be felt here for a longer time than many other areas of the county,” said Homestead Mayor Steve Losner.

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The mayor said those behind on their rents, who are living paycheck to paycheck, will have a difficult time catching ups. To help out, the city-owned utility is currently not disconnecting power due to non-payment. Other entities are also pitching in and the mayor is thankful.

“The massive efforts of Farm Share to do three to four food distributions in the last few weeks in deep Dade county,” said Losner.

The coronavirus crisis has had a unique impact on Homestead and adjacent Florida City. Traffic on the Turnpike and US1 is down significantly which has affected service station stores and fast food outlets.

“Although the Keys are open for business now, they still have that road blocked off and you know tourists and those who live close by who want to go down there are not yet permitted in that regard. Those businesses that rely on serving casual visitors to the Keys rather than residents are feeling those impacts,” said Losner.

“Counties can be more restrictive than the state permits and Monroe County has chosen to hold out a little while longer and that impacts traffic on sales, gas tax, and residents,” he added.

Many Homestead and Florida City residents commute daily in the Keys for work in the hotels and restaurants, though many of those open are operating with reduced staff.

“They are out of work, part of the millions that are added to the unemployment rolls every week,” said the mayor.

The partial reopening of the city will get cash flowing locally and for this town not its first rodeo with a big challenge.

“We wrote the playbook in Homestead on how to deal with the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane. Now, South Florida is going to be the author on how to deal with the aftermath of a pandemic,” said Losner.

When businesses do open on Monday in Homestead, there are a number of restrictions they will have to follow.

Restaurants will be capped at 50 percent indoor capacity based on Miami-Dade County Fire Occupancy Load. Outdoor dining will be allowed with proper social distancing.

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The establishment should have enhanced hygiene protocols including handwashing and hand sanitizer stations and cleaning of high-touch surfaces.

The use of facial coverings by employees and customers is required. A social distance of six feet must be kept between parties.

Parties larger than four people, or six people if they are from the same household, are not allowed.

There will be no self-service dining.

For barbershops and salons, indoor capacity will also be capped at 50 percent.

A social distance of six feet must be kept between customers unless they are from the same household

Only customers receiving service may be inside unless they are a parent or guardian accompanying a child

There will be a maximum of 10 people inside the business, or 25 percent building occupancy, whichever is smaller.

Service will be by appointment only and employees must use facial coverings, gloves, and single-use aprons. Customers will also be required to wear a facial covering.

The business must have enhanced hygiene protocols such as handwashing and hand sanitizer stations and cleaning of high-touch surfaces.

At office spaces, there must be hand sanitization stations at entrances and in common areas. Employees and guests must wear facial coverings and there must be increased cleaning of high touch areas. Play areas will remain closed.

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Also remaining closed are gyms, theaters, bowling alleys, bars and nightclubs, and pools.