July 7, 2020 -- With the coronavirus showing no signs of slowing down in South Florida, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez on Monday reversed course and banned restaurant dining and shut down some businesses that had been allowed to reopen.
Under an executive order Gimenez signed July 6, restaurant dining is banned throughout the county, effective Wednesday. Restaurants can still provide takeout and delivery service.
The order also closed ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues, gyms and fitness centers, and short-term rentals. A curfew will be enforced for the county’s 2.8 million residents from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. except for essential workers and people meeting a religious obligation.
“I am continuing to roll back business openings as we continue to see a spike in the percent of positive COVID-19 tests and an uptick in hospitalizations,” Gimenez said in the statement.
Not everything is shut down. Hotel and condo pools, summer camps and daycare centers can remain open with social distancing and facial masks. Office buildings, retail stores, and grooming businesses also are allowed to stay open.
“Beaches will be open on Tuesday,” Gimenez said, “but, if we see crowding and people not following the public health rules, I will be forced to close the beaches again.”
The total number of coronavirus cases in Florida surpassed 200,000 on Sunday after the state reported more than 10,000 new daily cases, according to The Tampa Bay Times. The total represents about 1 in every 112 people.
The state added more than 40,000 cases to its tally in four days, which now marks the third-highest count in the U.S. after New York and California. On Monday, the Florida Department of Health reported 6,336 more cases, according to WESH, an NBC affiliate in Orlando.
Municipal officials across the state have stepped up precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19 by closing beaches, requiring masks and encouraging physical distancing. Miami imposed a curfew before the July 4 weekend.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said he was considering another stay-at-home order.
New cases are at record-high numbers and hospitalizations are up, Suarez said. Miami is the densest city in the state, he added, which could require unique considerations.
“It’s an incredibly delicate balance,” he said, saying that lockdown orders were effective. Before the stay-at-home order, the area increased by 35 cases per day, which declined to 14 cases per day. Now the city is increasing by about 90 cases per day.
Although Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he won’t pause the reopening of Florida, city leaders may decide to make other decisions.
“We’re making what we think are the best decisions for our residents,” Suarez said. “For me, this is about saving lives and making decisions that are for the benefit of my residents.”
Miami has also implemented a mandatory face covering rule. A statewide order could help, Suarez added, similar to wearing a seat belt.
“When you wear a seat belt, it’s a precautionary measure,” he said. “You’re not guaranteed to live when there’s a car accident, but you have a much, much higher chance.”