Miami Beach

Miami Beach to Discuss Resolution to Reopen Beaches

Resolution would ask county mayor to let socially-distanced beach-goers return for four hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon, but mayors say the city is just not ready to let it happen.

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Miami Beach commissioner Ricky Arriola needs some fresh ocean air. And he thinks you do, too.

"It's something our residents need. We've been cooped up for six weeks," he said in an interview Thursday.

So at Friday morning's commission meeting, he will seek support for a resolution asking Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to let beach-goers return -- with some catches.

"There's still going to be social distancing," he said of his resolution, which would need three more votes among the city mayor and five fellow commissioners, to pass.

The beach would be open from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with pre-registered volunteers allowed to do beach cleanup any time during the day, in groups of no more than 10.

"It's not going to jeopardize anyone's health to be out on the beach. On the contrary, it's going to help people's mental and physical well being," he said.

But the mayors -- the county's Gimenez and city's Dan Gelber -- said at a Chamber of Commerce virtual roundtable Thursday that the city and county are just not ready.

"We open up Ocean Drive and we open up that segment of the beach, Lummus Park, we know tens of thousands of people would flock here because why wouldn’t they?" Gelber said. "And that’s not an acceptable model right now. We need to get to point where we can manage that and there’s no way we can manage that."

Gimenez, who has final say among local leaders, agreed.

"There are stretches in Florida where there are very few people, so there’s no reason to close the beaches," Gimenez said. "Our beaches are a heck of a lot more different, a lot more crowded, so we have to take different steps to open our beaches than you would have to do somewhere else in the state."

Arriola's resolution notes beaches in the Panhandle, Jacksonville, Treasure Coast and Sarasota areas are opening with restrictions, but coronavirus infections rates in those areas are lower than in the state's hot spot, Miami-Dade County.

"Look, I don’t know what too soon or too late is but here’s what I do know," Arriola said. "We’ve done great as a state, frankly done great as a county ... At some point somebody’s got to go first and I’m willing to say the beach is ready. Let people go walk, run or swim on the beach and I think we’re going to be just fine."

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