MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With coronavirus numbers skyrocketing, South Florida county leaders took drastic action Wednesday, issuing emergency orders requiring people to wear masks anywhere in public.
Broward County’s emergency order makes masks mandatory in all public spaces “where social distancing cannot be met.”
Miami-Dade County took it a step, further making masks mandatory “in all public spaces indoors and outdoors.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez called it “a matter of life and death.”
Wednesday night in Fort Lauderdale, word of the new mask order was beginning to emerge.
“I think whatever is necessary. We don’t want people to get sick,” said Alley Faulkner.
“I don’t think it’s necessary for me, but to keep everyone safe I will follow the law,” said her companion Caleb Martos.
The mask orders are hitting in advance of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The counties are closing the beaches for the holiday, hoping to avoid huge crowds and slow the spread of the virus.
Some restaurants still trying to recover from the shutdown, are concerned the beach closures will further hurt their bottom line.
Complaints and citations are up in South Florida of establishments not following the guidelines of spacing, capacity and facial coverings.
On Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale, Piazza Italia is reopened after being fined and shutdown.
Broward is following Miami-Dade County’s order of no onsite dining and no onsite alcohol service at restaurants between midnight and 5 a.m.
“When we relaxed the rules people got complacent,” said Broward Vice Mayor Steve Geller.
Geller, a strong advocate of mask wearing, showed CBS4’s Joan Murray the charts of rising COVID case numbers hospitalizations. Most alarming was the number of intensive care unit beds in use throughout Broward.
The rate has gone from 76% to 83% in just two weeks.
“I hope the numbers are scary enough to scare people out of complacency,” Geller said.
He said he is dismayed that the mask wearing issue has been politicized.
“There is no constitutional right not to wear a face mask in the middle of a pandemic,” he said.