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Miami-Dade to require masks in public, limit access to restaurants and hotels ahead of 4th of July weekend

Restaurants seating more than eight will have new hours of operation as of Wednesday night.

Miami-Dade County is increasing its restrictions on restaurants and hotels as officials attempt to scale back on large gatherings ahead of the July 4 weekend.

Late Wednesday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez also announced the county would require masks to be worn in public.

“After consulting with the CEOs of South Florida hospitals and Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew this afternoon, I have decided to issue an emergency order requiring masks in all public spaces inside and outdoors throughout Miami-Dade County,” Giménez said.

“The exclusions to the use of masks apply only to those with respiratory conditions that make it difficult to cover their mouth and nose, people doing strenuous activities, such as jogging, and children under the age of 2.”

The county already announced beaches would be closed through the weekend, starting July 3. The move was made in response to a sizable uptick in COVID-19 spread in recent weeks.

Starting Wednesday evening at 11:59 p.m., restaurants that seat more than eight people must close to in-person service from midnight until 6 a.m., Giménez announced late Tuesday with an amended emergency order.

“We must take this action to tamp down Miami-Dade County’s recent rise in COVID-19 cases,” Giménez said. “Too many people were crowding into restaurants late at night, turning these establishments into breeding grounds for this deadly virus.”

Customers would still be allowed to pick up a late night meal at those locations or order delivery.

Wednesday morning, Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald reported additional changes were coming for hotels.

Hotel pools must be closed from 8 p.m. through 6 a.m.. While open, the pool area must be limited to 50% capacity and restricted to hotel guests only. Alcohol sales are barred prior to 11 a.m.

Hotel rooms will also be limited to guests only. The rules task hotel operators to “strictly observe room occupancy limits.”

The updated rules go into effect July 3, just in time for the holiday weekend.

The county is making changes due to the virus’s spread among the younger population. In addition to closing beaches, the Mayor’s recent order also shuttered parks for public viewing of firework displays. Residents must watch those shows from their homes.

Gatherings of more than 50 people will be banned as a means to shut down July 4 parades.

City officials throughout Miami-Dade have been increasing social distancing regulations as well.

Giménez announced an increase in enforcement a week-and-a-half ago at a news conference alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis.

However, at that same meeting, he also downplayed the severity of the rise in COVID-19 cases.

“We always expected that as we open the economy, we would have more positive rates,” Giménez explained. “We don’t see this as concerning.”

The spike has only accelerated since then, leading to an abrupt shift from the Mayor. Giménez has also threatened to extend beach closures if residents continue to shirk social distancing recommendations.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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