MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Gyms and restaurants are closing their doors again, after an emergency mandate Monday from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
After outcry from restaurant owners, Mayor Gimenez issued a new statement to clarify the order, saying outdoor dining would be permitted, with some restrictions.
“After discussions with our esteemed medical experts, the members of the Miami-Dade County League of Cities, and the restaurant industry group, I have determined that my forthcoming emergency order will allow for outdoor dining, where possible, to continue, with restrictions that include tables of no more than four patrons, appropriate distancing, and music played at a level that does not require shouting, to prevent the emission of potentially dangerous airborne droplets,” said Gimenez in an emailed statement.
“As I continue to evaluate conditions in Miami-Dade County, I will be seeking the input of our wellness groups as well, and I will be making modifications accordingly that will put the least economic strain possible on our local businesses, while keeping the health and well-being of everyone in our community as the top priority.”
Gimenez signed the emergency order Monday to close places including: restaurant dining areas, ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues, gyms or fitness centers, and short-term rentals, like those available on Airbnb.
Restaurants will also still be allowed to serve takeout and delivery.
This goes into effect Wednesday, July 8.
Restaurant owners, like Nick Sharp of Threefold Cafe in Coral Gables, were upset by the decision to close restaurants. After the initial announcement, he and others wrote to the mayor with their concerns, asking him to reconsider.
“Bills are due. Business is already down,” Sharp told CBS 4. “Everybody I know is at about 50 to 60 percent of sales. This is just the nail in the coffin.”
Manning Sumner, owner of Legacy Fit, says he was shocked when he was told he would have to close the doors to his gym again, less than a month after opening.
“It’s wrong to shut small businesses down, especially those that are following the guidelines,” Sumner says. “I think it’s the duty of our government and our officials to control the people who are not following the guidelines.”
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez also addressed the spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations at a press conference at City Hall.
“Our percent positive has gone from 5% in mid-May to 20% today,” he explained. “Our hospitalizations are at their highest level, with 1,219. Our ICU’s and our ventilators are all up.”
He also acknowledged that the closures are not ideal, but he says they have not been given any direction and they are doing the best they can with information received from the State Department of Health.
“The guidelines that we got were all about opening,” Suarez explains. “If these things happen, open. If they don’t happen, you can’t open. But there were no guidelines on what happens if this flares up in the way that it has.”
Like much of the state, Miami-Dade’s restaurants had reopened with capacity and social-distancing restrictions in mid-May, while gyms reopened about a month ago.
During that time, the county’s daily rate for confirmed cases skyrocketed from about 300 a day to more than 2,000.
Speaking on CNN, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber blames those who are blatantly ignoring safety protocols.
“Too much socializing, too many parties,” he says. “Young people really seeming to not care at all or people who decide to come to our city, which is a hospitality city, and not following all these rules.”
As a result, small businesses are suffering.
“We need to protect our communities,” Sumner says. “But healthy individuals and small businesses, we also have to live our lives and pay our bills to feed our families.”
Luis DeBayle is the owner of the restaurant El Novillo. He says they are trying to remain hopeful.
“We will outlast this crisis. It’s difficult times for every body and a difficult time for the restaurant industry,” he says. “But I’m confident we are going to make it.”
The emergency order does not include places like office buildings, retail stores, grooming services, condo and hotel pools, summer camps or daycare centers. Those all remain open for now.
Beaches are still scheduled to reopen after the holiday weekend closures on Tuesday, July 7.
The countywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. remains in effect, except for essential workers.