On Saturday, the City said on social media that “Miami-Dade County has provided clarification on the requirement for facial coverings… Per CDC guidelines, facial coverings must be worn when social distancing cannot be achieved.” The online notice said, as a result, masks will not be required when social distancing is maintained. The interpretation applied to parks, marinas, golf courses and tennis centers.
On Sunday, Miami-Dade County Parks tweeted and then, later in the day, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez retweeted an announcement that read: “To clear up any misinformation that you may heard, please be reminded that our New Normal rules have not been changed.”
Asked to clarify the confusion, City spokeswoman Melissa Berthier passed along this response from Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales to a Commissioner:
"On the Parks Directors call last Friday, the conversation with respect to the requirement of facial coverings revolved around the issue of whether they were required in all instances or if there was discretion. What my staff heard on that call was that the County order imposing use of facial coverings also included a whereas clause that referenced the CDC guideline that facial coverings should be used when social distancing is not possible. My staff walked away with the clear impression that this was a new interpretation that gave cities the discretion to adopt that approach. This is what we did. Even in the past two days when the County has clarified officially that the order has not been changed, the County continues to says "We have different conditions in our communities that require each of you to use your good judgment, always following CDC health and safety guidelines." We believe that our new policy is consistent with this view of the County as to the enforcement of their order. Someone walking alone probably does not need to wear a mask. 3-4 individuals sitting or standing on the grass with proper social distancing probably don’t need to wear masks. People in groups that are not exercising social distancing should wear masks. That is now our policy and it also makes enforcement more reasonable and effective."
After multiple warnings in parks following their reopening almost two weeks ago, the City closed South Pointe Park which had the bulk of the warnings for no facial coverings and lack of social distancing. Following concerns about the need for people to get outside and the health benefits of doing so along with confusion over what constitutes “strenuous exercise”, uneven enforcement, and the upcoming summer heat, the City agreed at Friday’s Commission meeting to reopen South Pointe Park beginning today on a Monday through Friday schedule from 7 am to 8 pm but elected to keep it closed on weekends, for now. In addition, entry is limited to one checkpoint and those coming into the park will need to have a face covering which can be removed based on the previously outlined rules of strenuous exercise, children under 2, and those who have difficulty breathing.
On Saturday, the rules were “clarified” to say masks are not required if individuals are practicing social distancing. For now, that clarification stands.
Photo: South Pointe Park, May 3, 2020, courtesy Frank Del Vecchio