Just one week after saying a rise in COVID-19 cases was not “concerning,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez now says he will shut down beaches during the July 4 weekend.
“After consulting with our County’s public health experts, I will be signing an emergency order on Saturday to close all beaches in Miami-Dade County starting Friday, July 3, and ending Tuesday, July 7,” the Mayor said, before threatening to lengthen that order if the need arises.
“The closure may be extended if conditions do not improve and people do not follow New Normal rules requiring masks to be worn always inside commercial establishments and outdoors when social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible.”
Parks will be closed for public viewing of firework displays as well. Residents must watch those shows from their homes.
The order will also target large gatherings, such as parades. Gatherings of more than 50 people will be banned. At smaller events, “masks and social distancing are required and five groups of no more than 10 people will be allowed,” according to Giménez.
The move is somewhat of a shift from Giménez after he played down worries over the rising numbers at a June 19 news conference alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis.
At that event, Giménez did promise to increase enforcement for already-existing social distancing rules. As to whether the climbing cases presented a larger challenge, however, Giménez demurred.
“We always expected that as we open the economy, we would have more positive rates,” Giménez said.
“We don’t see this as concerning.”
He also stated last week the county did not have a hospital shortage and would be able to handle the uptick in cases.
That news has prompted Giménez to change his tone.
“As we continue to see more COVID-19 positive test results among young adults and rising hospitalizations, I have decided that the only prudent thing to do to tamp down this recent uptick is to crack down on recreational activities that put our overall community at higher risk,” he said, before again pushing for residents to wear masks and socially distance.
“I have been seeing too many businesses and people ignoring these lifesaving rules. If people are not going to be responsible and protect themselves and others from this pandemic, then the government is forced to step in and restore common sense to save lives.”
The rise has largely been driven by younger Floridians contracting the virus. City officials throughout Miami-Dade have been ramping up their own social distancing regulations to help beat back the increase.
“After all the success we have had tamping down the COVID-19 curve, we cannot turn back and overload our hospitals, putting our doctors and nurses at greater risk with more emergency room cases,” Giménez said.
“This new order will be targeting those who are being most irresponsible and endangering our community’s health and our economic recovery.”