reopenings

Bar, Nightclub Owners Protest as South Florida Takes Restrictive Approach to Nightlife

Owners and employees of bars and restaurants in Miami-Dade and Broward counties held protests in Wynwood and Fort Lauderdale, demanding a call to action.

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • Even though Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the green light, Miami-Dade and Broward's bars and nightclubs still remained closed
  • Bar and nightclub owners and employees rallied Monday, protesting the decision
  • By moving to phase 2, both counties will be able to allow more indoor entertainment centers such as concert halls and theaters to open at 50% capacity with mandatory masks

While the governor gave South Florida the green light to join the rest of the state in the second phase of reopening, Miami-Dade and Broward counties have taken a more restrictive approach to the nightlife industry, frustrating local bar and nightclub owners.

Owners and employees of bars and nightclubs in Miami-Dade and Broward counties held protests Monday in Wynwood and Fort Lauderdale, demanding a call to action.

“You lose all your employees, PPP and SBA only go so far. No one expected us to close for six months," said Jose Estrada of Centro Wynwood. "Either keep paying us to stay closed or let us open and let us work."

By moving to phase 2, both counties will be able to allow more indoor entertainment centers such as concert halls and theaters to open at 50% capacity with mandatory masks. In Broward County, those venues have been able to open at half capacity since mid-June, but in Miami-Dade County, theaters can't open just yet.

At a commission meeting Tuesday, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the easing of more restrictions and the reopening of indoor venues could be expected later this week. He said bars could be able to reopen with drinks being served at tables, but the bar itself is closed.

Instead, Gimenez pushed back the county's curfew by one hour, to 11 p.m. - a widely welcomed decision by the area's business owners.

"It’s one more hour to sell more food and a little bit of drinks," Juan Fitzmaurice, manager of Wynwood's Bakan, said.

Restaurants statewide are allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

Last Thursday, DeSantis said he planned on loosening that restriction soon. He has given no indication when the state will move into Phase 3, which would remove many remaining strictures.

Two of Florida's most populated counties, Miami-Dade and Broward, join the rest of the state in the second phase of reopening Monday, loosening some stringent regulations on businesses.

The governor added that the second phase would also allow both counties to begin allowing in-person instruction at schools to resume for the first time since they were closed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Students have been participating in distance learning since March. DeSantis said remote learning will still be an option for parents who want it.

"This is really, really important. We've had a very difficult six months but it's been very difficult for kids," DeSantis said. "Many of them did a good job under the circumstances but it's just not the same."

DeSantis said downward trends in COVID-19 positivity rates and virus-related hospitalizations have made it possible for the counties to move to Phase 2.

Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said a possible date for reopening hasn't been set.

"We are extremely encouraged by the downward trends that we have observed," Carvalho said.

Last week, Gimenez announced that certain entertainment venues would be reopening, including Zoo Miami on Tuesday and Jungle Island at a later date. He said the county would look into opening more businesses like movie theaters, bowling alleys, playhouses and arcades, and said more details about those reopenings would be released this upcoming week.

At a news conference on Friday, Broward Mayor Dale Holness said more openings would be announced in coming weeks, but said bars in the county would also remain closed.

"We're gonna plan that carefully and make sure we're moving forward in a cautious way," Holness said.

He added that the county's school board would be meeting on Sept. 22 to discuss when schools might possibly reopen to students.

Holness said certain businesses in Broward have already reopened to limited capacity, including movie theaters, bowling alleys and amusement parks.

Contact Us