MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At Bayfront Park Tuesday, a Miami police officer was seen handing out a face mask to a man who needed one.
Mayor Francis Suarez has ordered that everyone in public should wear a mask to help curb the upward trend of coronavirus cases.
“We think this will be the best guidelines and hopefully they’ll follow,” Suarez said.
Officials said Miami-Dade had a staggering positivity rate on Monday of 25.9%. That means one out of four tested are positive for the coronavirus, which is why enforcement is essential.
“Enforcement is going to be difficult. We are going to warn people and we are going to cite them,” Suarez said.
Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez told CBS4 that violators could face a $100 fine in his city for not wearing a mask.
Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert released a mask-in-public rule and encourages people to e-mail the city if they see violators.
In Miami, only those exercising outside and dining are exempt from wearing a mask.
“I think all of us should wear a mask to stop the spread of this,” said Miami resident Ralph Aleman.
That’s the consensus of those we spoke with, like Dirche Corea, a phlebotomist in Miami.
“I feel it’s very important for us to wear masks and protect the public but to protect our families,” Corea said.
Many in Miami said it may take a while to get used to wearing a mask in public.
“I usually wear a mask in stores. But it was so hot I took it off,” said Amber Bulna. “If there’s a mask order, you have to follow it.”
“Being out in the summer it is hot. In the store I understand,” said resident Corbin Kot.
El Portal Police Chief David Magnusson is the chairperson of the Miami-Dade County Association of Chiefs of Police COVID-19 Committee.
He said enforcement will be tough but extremely important.
“We have to enforce the law. It’s for the betterment of the entire community. This is not a jaywalking offense,” he said.
A former longtime Miami cop, he says police will have to lead by example.
“When you are out there on patrol, we put on the mask. We want to be safe,” he said. “You have a long summer ahead and you’d think common sense would dictate whether you are the police or the community at large.
“If we had something in place and somebody walks down the street without the mask we would certainly ask someone to put it on.”
That said, police will have to be careful.
“That’s the essence of law enforcement – how do you approach people,” he said.
At least report, the mayor’s office was still working on the latest order.
CBS4 was initially told violators could face a $500 fine for the misdemeanor citation. But that could vary from city to city.
As for Miami-Dade County, the mayor’s office said there has been no change at all to the current mask order from April 9, which remains in effect. The current order applies to everywhere inside, except at restaurant tables, and outside when social distancing isn’t possible.