Across the city of Miami, police officers are enforcing new guidelines on social distancing in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic - while putting themselves in the role of forcing some locations to close over violations.
Since the beginning, popular Wynwood bar and pizza spot Gramps says public health has been its top priority.
“We were the first bar to shutdown without being asked in March,” said Gramps owner Adam Gersten.
He says when they finally reopened, they had strict safety protocols in place.
“We still do not allow people to stand. We don’t allow people to go to the bar,” said Gersten. “We only have people sat by a host.”
However, over the weekend Gramps was one of several Miami businesses cited. The bar was forced to shutdown just for the night.
“I understand that when enforcement came in, what they observed was one rowdy table that our people had already asked multiple times to sit down.”
While NBC 6 hasn’t seen the citation for ourselves, Gersten said it was disappointing and thinks a warning would have been more appropriate.
“I think we're working very hard and it’s very disheartening to get shutdown when you’re working so hard for so long in such a public way to keep people safe,” said Gersten.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says the police department has a 39-member task force solely dedicated to enforcing the new normal guidelines.
“We have been cracking down,” said Suarez. “The last two weeks in particular.”
According to Miami Police, in November officers did more than 1800 compliance checks with 27 closures.
“It’s a very difficult balance, to balance the fact that we know livelihoods are at stake on one hand and lives are at stake on the other hand," Suarez said.
However, the mayor’s hands are still tied when it comes to enforcing the city’s mask mandate on individual violators. His efforts to convince the governor to allow cities to fine again, he says, are going nowhere.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been successful at getting through to the governor,” said Suarez.
The owner of Gramps says right now they’re not making any money. They’re just breaking even. However, he says they are employing people, and he wants to keep employing people.
“We will follow what ever rules they impose upon us in order to stay open and keep people employed and break even until everyone is vaccinated,” said Gersten.