MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A veteran Miami-Dade Police detective and spokesman is speaking out after the county’s latest arrest tied to new emergency orders now in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are in this together,” said Detective Alvaro Zabaleta. “We have gone from a Phase 2 back to a Phase 1. We do not want to be irresponsible. We do not want to act recklessly where that could put us into closures again. The concern is that there is a virus going around that is hospitalizing people. There is a virus going around that we have to take seriously.”
Zabaleta spoke with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench following the arrest this past weekend of the person operating the Magic Mushroom Huka Lounge at Northwest 186th St. and 76th Ave. Zabaleta said the person operating the Lounge should have been closed because of the emergency order and was arrested and had to sign a promise to appear in a court document.
On Monday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez mentioned the case during his virtual press conference. “We do have an arrest for somebody who was operating way out of bounds, operating a business that should not have been open. We are closing down businesses on a daily basis. We have been closing down 5 to 6 businesses on a daily basis.”
“The reasons we have these measures in place is for the safety of the community,” said Zabaleta. “As the Mayor has said over and over again at press conferences, there is zero-tolerance and that’s the message given to us and the orders given to us. Our job is to enforce the law. We have no opinion one way of the other. Either you are complying or you are not complying.”
“Business that are not complying run the risk of being closed and we do not want to do that and impact any business in that way,” he said. “So follow the emergency orders. Follow the CDC guidelines. Do the responsible thing.”
Zabaleta says there is a particular concern about congestion in such businesses.
“Most of these bars, these lounges, these restaurants have four walls,” he said. “There’s only a certain amount of space between those walls. It doesn’t allow for social distancing and that is a big problem.”
Around the county, CBS4 has followed Hialeah Police as they made a series of surprise inspections.
In Miami, the city says four warnings were given out between July 4th and July 11th to owners and business operators failing to comply with the new emergency orders.
Gabriel Medici, the owner of Luna Pasta E Dolci at 68th St. and Biscayne Boulevard, told D’Oench “The inspectors came by late at night last Saturday. We were missing a few signs and some hand sanitizer. I was probably wrong but you know I had to work so hard and I lost track. We have been there for 15 hours a day and you miss something. But I have to say I am very proud of my business and my neighbors.”
“So the inspections,” he said. “I think they are good and they are bad.”