Elected officials from Miami Lakes and Hialeah, along with members from the area’s business community, gathered on Tuesday to ask that Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez reconsider his recent round of shutdowns following a continued rise of coronavirus cases.
The group, which included Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo and Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid, spoke at a Cancun Grill in Miami Lakes.
They asked that the county focus on penalizing those individuals who do not follow social distancing guidelines, rather than the businesses as a whole.
“[Businesses] have done nothing wrong,” commissioner Bovo said. “On the contrary, they’ve complied with every single regulation asked of them, and they followed it to the letter of the law.”
On Monday, Gimenez ordered that all restaurants, ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues and short-term rentals in Miami-Dade shut down by Wednesday, July 8th.
Restaurants could provide outdoor seating and continue to operate with takeout and delivery services only.
But, even with the ability to continue serving under those restrictions, Mayor Cid feared many small minority-owned businesses would not survive a second round of closures.
"The first round of closures throughout our nation - 22% of small businesses closed in that first round," Cid said. "73% of those small businesses were minority-owned businesses."
For one restaurant owner, another round of closures could be a return to some dark times for her business.
The owner, who did not provide their name, owns five Giardino Gourmet Salads restaurants in Miami-Dade. She said nearly 90% of employees were laid-off when the pandemic first began. At the moment, she says her business is running at 50%.
"This is not about greed for us. This is about survival," the owner said.
The county's announcement of closures were in response to the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, weeks after reopenings began.
In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez said hospitalizations in the city were at their highest levels since the outbreak, as Miami led the state in infections with nearly 31,000 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday.
"In terms of the data that we're looking at, the news is not particularly good," Suarez said at a news conference Monday. "The statistics are very grave, every single metric is up."
Violations of coronavirus public health guidelines in Miami-Dade county can be reported at 305-4-POLICE.