MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Tired of take out? Don’t want to pay for delivery anymore? The cities of Miami, Miami Beach and Hialeah are moving to the next phase of reopening Wednesday, allowing restaurants to reopen their doors to customers again for the first time since March 16, when dining rooms were closed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
On Miami Beach, David McLennan, the owner of XO Expresso Bar, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench “This is a big day. We have been on a gran and go basis for business so this a big day. We are really excited about it. We are taking all the precautions from the CDC. We have markers for people when they come in. We have sanitizers here. You have got to start somewhere in this process.”
Timothy Schmand, the Executive Director of Lincoln Road business improvement, said “Lincoln Road is defined by the cafe culture and so I’m really glad they are open up and down Lincoln Road. It’s the same amount of chairs but they are just further apart.”
Pino Piroso is preparing to open up his Pizza Rustica restaurant on Friday. “We want people here to have a good time because they have been miserable with no jobs. This has been very stressful.”
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber urged customers, employees and owners to be careful.
“We have gotten through this pandemic and reduced the spread of the virus by following the guidelines. People are doing a great job social distancing and washing their hands. It’s important to remember that the virus still exists and we need to follow the guidelines.”
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez held a news conference outside Cafe Versailles announcing the new openings for his city and then went inside with owner Felipe Valls to observe the social distancing measures needing taken.
Valls said “First of all I am happy for my employees. They are the one sitting around for awhile. We as a company we were able to avoid laying everyone off and we have kept busy through take out and the kitchen work and stations. It’s a little slow right now. It is going to take awhile to build confidence with the public but we are open and that is a good thing.”
In Coconut Grove, Stevan Vignon, the son of the owner of the Greenstreet Cafe, said “We are excited about being open. We have been closed for the last two months. We had to lay off 100 employees and we hope to bring them back.”
One regular customer said “Thank God they are back here. I hope to take advantage of that.”
Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell said, “We are looking forward to a slow rollout so we can bring this back the right way.”
In Hialeah, Alejandro Gonzalez, the head waiter at the Latin Cafe, said, “We are keeping people six feet apart and we are at 50 per cent capacity. We are also going to have disposable menus and when people are done with them we throw them out.”
Not everyone was eager to rush in to dine in.
Lorenzo Lockley stopped at the Enriqueta’s sandwich shop in Miami for a morning coffee and while there were plenty of empty tables inside, he opted to stay outside.
“You want to make sure the air is clean,” he said. “I mean the longer you wait the more the air thins itself out.”
Other cities within Miami-Dade County already reopened last week following New Normal Guidelines, but Miami, Miami Beach and Hialeah decided to wait an extra week.
The City of Miami Gardens, which reopens nail, hair salons and barbershops on Wednesday, will wait even longer before reopening dine-in seating at restaurants. A spokeswoman says the plan is for them to reopen based on guidance from the State Department of Health.
Mike Stevens reopened his TopCuttaz barbershop after being shut down for two months.
“It does feel great to be back,” he said. “Now I can start earning again. And no one is better qualified to not pass on the virus than someone who is formally trained in barbering.”
Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said safety was critical.
“We have returned in a way that will not exacerbate a very dangerous situation,” he said.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is also urging everyone in his city and elsewhere to show discipline in their behavior as they follow social distancing guidelines and so that the current “downward trajectory” of coronavirus cases will continue.
“I am really happy to reopen,” said Mauro Luise, owner of Caffe DiMauro on Washington Avenue and 15 Street. “It’s like I was on vacation for two and half months but really it is time to reopen now.”
Luise said he did not apply for any stimulus help from the government. “It’s just me doing this. I did not ask for help.”
Luise and his five employees are working hard to protect customers and employees at his Italian restaurant that will reopen at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We will sanitize everything and keep the tables 6 feet apart and we will keep this place super clean,” he explained. “Employees are disinfecting everything all over the chairs. Also there will be no contact with hands and we have all of our employees wearing gloves and disinfecting all of the glasses and the silver platters. We need to be careful. We need to reopen but we need to be careful.”
There are numerous safety protocols that restaurants must follow.
“We have been communicating with the restaurants about the rules they need to follow. They are slightly different from the rest of the county,” said Mayor Suarez. “The key is discipline. If people continue to wear masks and distance socially we should be fine. My main message is that when you are indoors, wear a mask. Obviously when you are eating, you can’t wear a mask. Always sanitize your hands and keep them clean. And listen to what the authorities are saying.”
Here are some of the other safety steps restaurants should be taking.
• Restaurants must maintain no more than 50 percent of its capacity for indoor dining and including social distancing of 6 feet between parties.
• Outdoor seating must maintain similar distancing.
• Bar counters are closed to seating.
• A maximum of four people can be seated at one table whether seated indoors or outdoors. Up to six members of the same household can be seated together.
• All restaurants must create visible floor markings for appropriate 6-foot distancing in any waiting areas, whether exterior or interior.
• Hands-free sanitizer must be available at the entrance.
• Host staff must maintain social distance from the customer on escorting to table
• Customers must be wearing masks at all times unless seated. Guests must wear masks or facial covering that covers mouth and nose as they leave their tables.
• All restaurant employees must wear masks at all times.
• Glove use is for employees involved in direct food preparation. Gloves must be changed at least every 30 minutes or when changing tasks. Hands must be washed between glove changes. Safe glove removal practices. Bussers and food runners must wear gloves.
• Hand cleaning between tables is needed each time servers or staff come into physical contact with guests at tables or with food, drinks, dishware, silverware, napkins or other serving equipment. Hands much be washed before, after and between deliveries to different tables.
• All menus must be disposable and single-use or provided by a QR code that can viewed on a cell phone.
• Only silverware rolled in a napkin or disposable silverware is permitted. No water or wine glasses are allowed as table presets. No condiments or breadbaskets as presets. Hand sanitizing wipes or another form of handwashing method is recommended at each table.
• Restrooms only single-person use.
• Must have plastic barriers at cash register and counters.
• Doors must be disinfected/ wiped-down every 30 minutes.
• Self-service drink fountains, buffets or salad bars must remain closed.
• All condiments must be single-use
• It is encouraged that contactless/ cashless transactions be used.
• If a payment device is used to complete the transaction, the employee must sanitize the device after each use. Employee must provide the customer with a wipe so that the customer wipes the device after use.