Police will start enforcing a curfew in the city of Miami starting midnight Saturday.
Miami city commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Thursday to enforce Miami-Dade County’s 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. curfew until further notice.
“We'll be out giving a lot of warnings, giving people an opportunity to come into compliance,” said Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina. “But if they don’t, we can fine the businesses up to $500. If you're out and about after midnight, you as an individual, can be fined up to $100.“
According to a city spokesperson, while the police may choose to issue a citation to an individual for breaking the curfew, the city still cannot collect the fine because of the governor’s order.
Commissioners had previously decided back in October to stop enforcing the county's curfew.
The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Joe Carollo, who said that Jackson Health’s CEO personally reached out to him.
“He feels that if we don't do anything, in 10 days, we're going to be overwhelmed in our hospitals,” Carollo said.
Jackson Health sent NBC 6 the letter that CEO Carlos Migoya sent to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez detailing the current concern and support for a curfew.
“The resolution that I’m presenting (Thursday) is to enforce the curfew that the county has placed and to make all these late night places...close at midnight,” Carollo said.
"I commend (the City of Miami) for its commitment to working in partnership with #OurCounty to ensure the health and safety of our residents and businesses," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a tweet in response to the curfew enforcement. "To get through this crisis, we need to stand together as a united Miami-Dade community."
Over at the Dirty Rabbit in Wynwood, General Manager Joey Vega says he’s going to have to make some tough decisions now.
“We're talking about a lot of people who depend on this to feed their families. These people work on tips,” Vega said.
He said his bar makes most of its money between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., so enforcing the midnight curfew will be a huge loss for many reasons.
“It’s not only a lot of business lost, it also puts us in a tough predicament where we have to let go of anywhere between 50 to 60% of our staff because obviously there's not enough shifts, not enough hours because of the curfew," he said.
He says there has not been a clear line of communication coming from the city, and he doesn’t feel like there was any effort by the city to involve the businesses in the decision making.
“I’m not sure coronavirus comes out before 12 or after 12,” Vega said. “I think it’s just a matter of doing a better job. The restrictions, the guidelines that we have enforced in the first place and actually following through with them at our locations."
“When you do a curfew at 12, that means by 11 it’s last call,” said Carlos Cruz, the director of operations at El Santo Miami on 8th Street. “The way that Miami has been built, it’s a nightlife, and by nightlife, it doesn’t have to be a club, just late night. People go out to eat.”
He says his restaurant has been following all the rules to stay open, and this midnight curfew will not only hurt business but also the staff they’ve been working so hard to employ throughout the pandemic.
“We care about our employees more than anything else,” Cruz said. “I don’t think it’s fair, right now, in the middle of Christmas and at the end of the year that we go back to something that’s going to make us let our staff go.”
Meanwhile, over on Miami Beach, where the city has been enforcing the county’s curfew, Commissioner Michael Gongora introduced a resolution Wednesday to loosen it on four special days.
The result, which eventually passed, will ask Levine Cava to make an exception and push the curfew to 2 a.m. to allow the businesses on Miami Beach a few extra hours of business over the New Year’s Eve weekend and on Christmas Eve.
“It’s been a hard year for all of us,” Gongora said. “This isn’t a permanent relaxation on the curfew. This is saying there are a couple of special nights... when people like to spend it with friends and loved ones, and let's stay out a couple of hours later. Let people enjoy their holidays. Let's let our businesses enjoy making a little bit more money.”
He says the resolution is clear that it must be done according to CDC guidelines and social distancing.
The Miami Beach resolution would have to be approved by Levine Cava in order for it to be a reality.
The county mayor's spokesperson sent us over a statement saying:
"We can now see a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s more critical than ever that we continue taking steps to keep ourselves and our community safe – especially over the holiday period. Bringing cases down is the only way to protect our people and our economy. The measures we have in place now are an important part of our protection plan to ensure we can move safely into the New Year together.”
It’s not clear yet whether the resolution will be discussed at an upcoming meeting.