MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Beach is normally the life of the party, especially on holiday weekends, but not this year.
Ocean drive is dead after orders came down from the county to close our world-famous beaches for the holiday weekend. It caught many tourists by surprise.
“I was coming for a weekend, preparing to have fun. Then we got here and unfortunately, the beaches were closed, that’s so sad,” said Aline Kazidi, who is visiting from Denver.
Not only is the beach closed but there are new rules in place, like whether inside or out — you have to have to wear a mask, even when you’re in a restaurant unless you’re actually eating. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber explains it’s all an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“You gotta wear a mask, you need to exercise physical distancing. We have a curfew now, at 10 p.m. and on the beach, you can’t buy liquor at a liquor store after 8 p.m.,” said Mayor Gelber.
At South Beach Liquors, they are torn.
“I feel very conflicted. At one end this is supposed to be a very busy weekend for us and we can defiantly use it after the few weeks we had, at the same time, human safety comes first,” said Shaul Menashe who works at the store.
“Look, look it’s empty.”
The folks next door at Pizza De Miami tell us business is way down.
“Today, for example, compared to last week, 90%, 90%,” said Soli Morgan at Pizza de Miami.
Looming over all of this, if coronavirus cases don’t go down our new normal can get much worse.
“We’re trying our hardest to avoid returning to a shelter in place order. That’s what’s going on right now. We’re trying to put controls in place to stop the kind of socializing and groups that create a spread of the virus,” said Mayor Gelber.
So now everyone will be looking forward to Tuesday. That’s when beaches in Miami-Dade reopen.
Meanwhile, in Broward, the July 4th holiday usually means packed beaches and bustling crowds on nearby sidewalks, or in Hollywood’s case – the Broadwalk.
But not this year.
South Florida’s beaches are closed and law enforcement is blocking entry to them.
“It’s totally disappointing but I understand it. I think it is necessary, unfortunately, given the crisis,” said Greg Glenn.
With the number of positive coronavirus cases hitting record numbers, county leaders have taken drastic steps to control the spread by closing beaches over the holiday weekend.
On Hollywood Beach, sunbathing was off-limits but the Broadwalk was busy with people walking or jogging.
For some, there was little else to do.
“Nothing, keep walking and walking and walking, There’s nothing to do. Where we live our pool is gone, the beach is gone, it’s terrible, it really is. We’ll watch some fireworks, whatever, and make the best of it,” said Aggie Rigos who was strolling along Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
“We are doing some Zoom stuff with friends and catch up with them a little bit. Have a glass of wine and Zoom,” said Wren Newman, who also took a stroll along Laudale-by-the-Sea’s beach front.
Businesses near the beach said they were bracing for another setback. Elie Afriat, the owner of ‘Swim and Jog’ said he was shut down for ten weeks during the stay at home order. He said he was just starting to come back when this happened.
“If the beach is closed people have no reason to come here. What are they going to do? There are two blocks here where they can just walk around, grab a drink and that’s it. The beach is what attracts our business and that’s what we need, the beach to be open,” he said.
Broward beaches will reopen Monday. In Miami-Dade, beachgoers will have to wait until Tuesday to hit the sand.
For those who usually watch July 4th fireworks from the beach – sorry, not this year. However, there are a few ways you can check them out from the comfort of your own home.