Miami Beach Commissioners this week agreed to a June 1 date for hotels and beaches to reopen following COVID-19 closures.
Earlier in the week, non-essential retail, personal grooming establishments, offices and museums were allowed to reopen under Phase 1A of the City’s plan though not all were ready. On May 27, restaurants will be allowed to open up as part of Phase 1B. In many cases, they will have expanded outdoor footprints to allow for socially distanced dining.
Beaches and hotels were in Phase 2 due to concerns about large crowds flocking to the beaches after being pent-up for more than two months under stay-at-home orders. Mayor Dan Gelber has been working with other coastal mayors who indicated a desire to coordinate their reopenings to avoid any one area being overwhelmed and risking the spread of the coronavirus if the others remained closed.
Initially, City Manager Jimmy Morales proposed a Wednesday, June 3 date, two weeks after the non-essential retail reopenings to allow time to evaluate case numbers and be alert to any increases due to more community interaction. He also said a weekday would keep the number of people coming to the beach down versus a weekend opening, though after prodding from Commissioners he agreed Monday, June 1 was acceptable, providing more time to evaluate how the reopening is going prior to the June 5 Commission meeting date.
After studying what other communities have done, he recommended two rules: Groups of no more than ten and social distancing of six feet between families or groups. He said he would not be recommending masks on the beach.
Beach concessions would go back to full operations. While Morales said big festivals and concerts on the beach would have to wait, “Individual use of the beach… is possible.”
As with the parks, he expects a “big surge” initially that will require “more significant resources” on enforcement. He indicated he will come back to Commissioners next week with a more detailed plan on how that will be accomplished.
Gelber who said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez “is certainly waiting for us to give him a signal” on timing and that “the other coastal communities said they will follow what we do,” left the Commission meeting for a previously scheduled call with the coastal mayors and conveyed the June 1 date to them.
Final word still needs to come from the County.
Commissioners also urged Gimenez to open condo pools through a resolution that Commissioner Mark Samuelian has tried to get approval for on two previous occasions. The resolution proposed pool openings be subject to social distancing requirements and applicable CDC guidelines. It also suggests the decision to open or close pools be at the discretion of individual property managers and condo associations who could also enforce "additional rules as deemed necessary."
“Our Health Advisory Committee gave us the green light,” he said. “The community clearly wants this… I think this is something we can do carefully, thoughtfully, and move forward.”
Commissioner Ricky Arriola tried to amend the resolution to include community pools. Samuelian said he would be willing to add community pools, operated by the City, if the Health Advisory Committee vetted and recommended it.
Arriola argued the City controls what happens at community pools versus the condo pools where “we don’t have the control and visibility… it’s a little illogical.”
Opening tennis courts, golf courses and condo pools while keeping community pools closed “smacks of elitism,” he said.
Samuelian asked for a recommendation from the Health Advisory Committee and the Administration on implementation to be presented at the Commission’s next meeting on Thursday. “If they come back to us Thursday with that green light, I would be willing to accept their recommendation,” he said.
In the meantime, he said a reopening of the condo pools “would be a major step forward as we try to approach the new normal.” The resolution passed unanimously.
For more information on the reopening process, click here.
Miami Beach Proposes June 1 Reopening of Hotels and Beaches:
Coastal Cities in Miami-Dade County Plan to Go Together
Phase 1: Retail Back on May 20, Restaurants on the 27th
City maintains its position on no masks with social distancing