Some important updates on the COVID front this week...
The COVID alternate care facility will leave the Miami Beach Convention Center this week
Virtual government meetings will be allowed to continue
Updates on what’s open and the rules
Lease ends for COVID alternate care facility at the Miami Beach Convention Center
After multiple extensions, the State’s Division of Emergency Management (DEM) has notified the City it will end its lease for a COVID alternate care facility on October 7th. The facility was set up in April in the event local hospitals became overwhelmed with COVID patients and needed an overflow site. No patients were ever admitted.
City Spokeswoman Melissa Berthier said in an email, “DEM suspects that the load out time will extend beyond the October 7th date due to the complicated mechanical systems etc. The lease addendum provides that DEM is responsible for rent payments until such time that they are fully loaded out.”
The lease provided some rental income to the City while the Convention Center was closed due to the pandemic. As we told you last week, the Convention Center is now ready, with appropriate safety precautions, to welcome guests back for events.
Virtual public meetings
Governor Ron DeSantis this week extended his order allowing local governments to hold virtual meetings through November 1.
The latest on what’s open and the rules
Following DeSantis’ surprise announcement last Friday that the State would be entering Phase 3 of its reopening plan effective immediately, there were a number of announcements and clarifications this week.
At the end of the week, here’s where we stand:
All retail and commercial businesses are permitted to reopen.
Restaurants, Bars and Clubs: According to Miami-Dade County, “[T]he County’s 50 percent capacity limits for restaurants will remain in place as a minimum, with the expansion of more than 50% capacity allowed for restaurants and other venues that can accommodate more tables while also keeping a 6-foot separation between tables. Restaurants can reach 100 percent capacity by including outdoor table service where practicable. The maximum seating per table indoors or outside continues - no more than six people per table or up to ten from the same household.
"For restaurants and bars that do not have sufficient floor space for tables to reach the 50 percent capacity minimum, they will be allowed to set tables closer together to reach the 50 percent minimum.
“Bars with only counter service will be allowed to reach 50 percent capacity with seating that is separated at the bar as far as possible between parties being served to reach a minimum of 50 percent capacity.
“Clubs that include dancing must require that masks be worn on the dance floor. Eating and drinking will be allowed only at tables.”
“Restaurants and other food service establishments that reopen for service at sidewalk cafés are strongly encouraged to accept guests by reservation only, and to utilize a paging system to limit the congregation of patrons,” according to an announcement from the City of Miami Beach.
On-site dining hours remain limited to 11 pm to 6 am. Delivery and drive-through services only continue to be permitted overnight. Take-out, pick-up, and curb-side pick-up is not allowed between 11 pm and 6 am.
Ambient level music is permitted (e.g. the volume may not exceed the level of a normal conversation). Live entertainment is allowed, however, live performers must be separated by a distance of at least ten feet from all audience members and audience members must be seated at tables or stationary seats. The volume of live entertainment “shall not exceed the level of a normal conversation.”
Package liquor stores and other retail stores selling alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption must discontinue alcohol sales at 8 pm each day in all zoning districts though package liquor stores are allowed to make deliveries to residential properties until 11 pm daily.
Playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment and volleyball courts are now open citywide. Facial coverings must be worn and social/physical distancing between members of different households must be maintained. The County order notes high-touch surfaces and equipment must be cleaned and disinfected at least daily with CDC-approved cleaners
Park restrooms are open. Use is limited to one person or one family at a time.
Short-term rentals and vacation rentals are permitted, however, the maximum daytime and overnight occupancy for short-term rentals and vacation rentals is limited to “a maximum of two persons per bedroom plus two additional persons per rental unit not to exceed a maximum of four persons, unless it is a single family group staying together, in which case not to exceed six persons per rental unit.”
Religious Institutions and Places of Worship: There is no to the limit number of people who may be physically present at any religious service. “Persons attending religious services are urged, but are not required, to practice social distancing, such as keeping six feet between persons and limiting group size to that necessary to accomplish physical distancing,” the City notes.
Curfew and fines: According to the County, it will continue the 11 pm to 6 am countywide curfew "for the time being in an effort to curtail late-night activities that facilitate the spread of the virus.”
“Violators will be cited with a second-degree criminal misdemeanor that sets a maximum $500 fine and/or 180 days in jail. Per the Governor’s Order suspending all fines and penalties applied to individuals for violating the County’s COVID-19 public health orders, Miami-Dade County will continue to issue civil citations for individuals not wearing masks and will process fines and penalties as permitted,” the County announced.
A word about facial coverings
The County order requiring wearing of masks or other facial coverings when in public remains in effect though, according to the Governor’s order, individuals cannot be fined for COVID violations. Businesses, however, can be penalized if customers are not following COVID orders.
"Facial coverings are not required while actively engaging in an organized sport, playing tennis, or while swimming or otherwise in a pool, ocean, or other body of water." According to an order from Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, in this case, “[O]rganized sport means a sport such as soccer, baseball, basketball, softball, boxing, and other recognized sport that is part of an established athletic league or part of an organized program (municipal or otherwise).”
“The facial covering exemption for organized sports includes training and practice sessions and matches, but prior to commencing and immediately upon concluding a training or practice session or a match, individuals must wear facial coverings. Individuals who are exercising in their personal capacity and not training as part of an organized sport (i.e., participating in a regular fitness class, using gym equipment as part of a workout, including with a personal trainer or coach, or playing a sport for leisure, excepting tennis) do not fall within the definition of ‘organized sport’ and are not exempted from using facial coverings,” according to the announcement from the County.
In a Thursday video message, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber continued his criticism of the Governor’s actions. “Regarding masks, while we will likely not be giving out many mask citations to individuals for now, given our inability to impose a penalty, we will be giving warnings and providing free masks,” he said.
“Importantly, we are still allowed to require businesses to make sure all patrons and employees are wearing masks per our guidelines. So, what that means, is expect our city and county officers to be checking in. If we see these guidelines being violated, expect prompt action including closures of businesses if employees and patrons are not wearing masks. We’d obviously rather avoid that, so it's important for our business community to embrace this responsibility and make sure their patrons and workers are wearing masks as required,” Gelber emphasized.
“So you know, I don’t support much of the Governor’s actions,” he continued. “All of our medical experts tell us that the mask mandate has been a major reason we have been able to reduce the virus without having to shelter in place. It’s also been the reason why we’ve been able to open up as much as we have. So, his order not only effectively precludes our enforcement of the mask requirement on individuals, but it sends a very misleading message to the community that we no longer need to be cautious. And every physician and scientist with whom we’ve consulted has said precisely the opposite.”
“It is really now on us to make sure that people are careful. Please do all you can to create a culture of compliance. And even if you’re not going to get fined, wear the mask. Urge others to do the same,” Gelber said.