What to Know
- Miami-Dade and Broward officials have relaxed their counties' coronavirus restrictions in accordance with DeSantis's decision to move to phase 3 of reopening
- Both counties are offering more flexibility for businesses and restaurants to open, though social distancing and facial coverings are still strongly urged
- Some have expressed concern about how the changes will affect the state's coronavirus outbreak, including Dr. Anthony Fauci
Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an emergency order that essentially lifted all COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and other businesses across the state.
That means that businesses can open and operate at full capacity, and cities and counties can no longer use fines to enforce public health guidelines.
However, if local governments do want to keep capacity below 100% for restaurants, they are permitted to do so as long as they provide the state with an economic impact analysis on the restaurant industry and an explanation of why limits are necessary for public health.
DeSantis's decision was met with some pushback, including some criticism from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who warned that the change is "very concerning to me. When you're dealing with community spread, and you have the kind of congregate setting where people get together, particularly without masks, you’re really asking for trouble."
Mayors Carlos Gimenez and Dale V.C. Holness also expressed concern about eliminating all regulations.
“We’re hoping that the governor will allow us to have deeper restrictions than the rest of the state. We have a greater spread of the virus in South Florida than other parts of the state," Broward County Mayor Dale Holness told WLRN last week.
Both Miami-Dade and Broward officials moved quickly to adapt the counties' existing emergency orders to fit the new standards set by DeSantis.
The counties are still encouraging everyone to follow CDC guidelines (using facial coverings, social distancing) as much as possible, but more businesses will be able to open, and restaurants may some have more flexibility in the number of guests they can allow.
Miami-Dade County: Curfew still in effect, bars and nightclubs can open
All retail and commercial establishments in Miami-Dade are allowed to open and remain open, including bars and nightclubs, as long as they follow the following guidelines:
- Signage must be posted to emphasize social distancing, use of facial coverings and general COVID awareness
- All personnel must be trained to deal with COVID-related issues
- Social distancing of at least six feet between people should be enforced as much as possible
- Coronavirus infections from on-site personnel must be immediately reported to the Florida Department of Health
- Sanitization of common areas should be enhanced
- Hand sanitizer should be available at points of entry and throughout the establishment
A countywide 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew is still in effect, and restaurants that offer seating to more than eight people cannot offer on-premises dining between those hours. They can, however, keep their kitchens open to do delivery services and take-out.
Restaurants are also allowed to be filled at 100% capacity if they are able to do so while maintaining six feet of distance between tables. No more than six guests are allowed per table, and anyone who is not actively eating or drinking must wear a facial covering.
The county's updated emergency order also noted that people attending religious services are urged, but not required, to maintain six feet of social distancing.
County officials told NBC 6 that they are looking into whether they can fine businesses for allowing patrons inside their facilities without wearing masks or following other COVID guidelines.
Broward County: Bars and clubs must remain closed, more flexibility for other businesses and facilities
In Broward County, night clubs and hookah bars must remain closed.
Bars, pubs, breweries, billiard halls, cocktail lounges and adult entertainment establishments must remain closed if they make more than 50% of their gross revenue from the sale of alcohol.
These facilities may only operate to provide take-out or delivery.
Indoor seating areas at restaurants must not exceed 50% of the maximum seating capacity, and the total indoor and outdoor seating combined occupancy should not exceed the 100% total maximum occupancy for the entire restaurant.
Restaurants, bars and pubs must also stop serving patrons by 11 p.m.
All other businesses are allowed to reopen, though they must follow the same guidelines as Miami-Dade: putting up signage with COVID awareness, enforcing social distancing, cleaning publicly used spaces frequently, and having a plan in case an employee gets sick.
Gyms and fitness centers must operate at 50% capacity.
At the end of last week, Broward County Mayor Dale V.C. Holness also announced that the county would also be making additional changes to loosen some restrictions on businesses and facilities:
- Banquet facilities and other function spaces can operate at 50% capacity, with certain restrictions still in place (such as no more than 100 people allowed in a room)
- Non-professional organized athletic activities with spectators, such as high school and little league games, can operate with some restrictions still in place
- Restaurant counters can be used for seating, though no liquor can be sold to patrons there
- Children under 17 can now be grouped together in groups larger than 10 at daycare facilities
- Restaurant and food establishments can have billiard and other games operating inside the facility
- Apartment complexes and homeowners associations may now allow residents to invite guests; complexes and associations also no longer need to have someone on-site while the pool is being used
- Restaurants can have live performers, provided those performers be at least 10 feet away from guests, and patrons must wear masks when not seated at their tables
- Non-organized sports at parks will now be allowed for groups of up to 10 people, though masks must be worn while not actively engaging in the sports activity
Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief told NBC 6 that code enforcement will still be out checking that restaurants and bars are constantly cleaning seats, tables and other surfaces between parties.
Monroe County: Facial coverings still required in businesses, more flexibility for restaurants and bars
Monroe County's facial covering ordinance is still in effect. Although fines can no longer be issued against individuals, code compliance can still cite businesses that are not requiring their patrons and employees to wear them.
Businesses can therefore face fines of up to $500 if they are found to not be in compliance with the rule. Fines for repeat offenses can reach up to $5,000.
Otherwise, businesses are allowed to operate at full capacity, including restaurants and bars.