The city of Miami police chief Thursday called for everyone to be safe and to wear a mask after more than 30 officers tested positive for the coronavirus after the recent protests.
Chief Jorge Colina said he supports residents holding rallies and protesting, but as part of an overall enforcement plan, they will need to get a permit going forward if they are going to be shutting down city streets.
"Restaurants are restricted. Bars can’t open. You have to wear a mask," Colina said. "But somehow, it's OK to bring 200, 300 people together shoulder-to-shoulder, many without a mask, and go out into the public right of way and stop people from traveling, from moving -- restricting commerce. It's not right. So, in order to be fair, it must apply to everyone."
Protesters have taken to the streets since George Floyd’s murder, sometimes shutting down major surface streets and even highways. Colina recounted one instance where a person was hit by a car and the family couldn't get to the hospital because the streets were blocked.
Colina also said it’s not what his officers want to do, but they will also be taking action when people aren’t wearing masks or businesses aren’t following the rules.
“What that means is we are going to be enforcing all of the city’s emergency orders, the county’s emergency orders, ect. That means we will be closing businesses that do not comply with the orders,” Colina said.
Colina said 115 police department workers are in quarantine — many officers were taken off the street after contact with protestors.
“Many of those officers I have sick were part of those COVID response teams. That’s not acceptable,” Colina said.
Colina told us that 31 officers right now have the virus. He says in the bigger picture, everyone needs the public to follow the rules more now than ever.
“The city of Miami is at its most vulnerable point since the beginning of the COVID019 pandemic,” Colina said.