Mayor Suarez: Ultra Music Festival must update safety plan to prevent coronavirus outbreak

MIAMI (WSVN) - The Ultra Music Festival is two weeks away, and as concern over the coronavirus grows, many aspects of how the festival and the City of Miami will prepare are still up in the air.

Ultra fans have been anticipating the festival’s return to Bayfront Park, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said they’re working with the festival to prevent a potential outbreak.

Suarez also said that Ultra comes with special challenges because it attracts people from over 100 countries around the world.

“We’re monitoring on a day-to-day basis right now,” Suarez said. “Right now, we don’t have any cases in the city or in the county, but what makes Ultra different, like I said, is that it is an event that brings people from across the world. I mean, according to their website, 105 countries.”

Ultra did not provide a comment on what they will do in regards to preventing the spread of the coronavirus, but Suarez said government officials at every level are taking steps to prevent people from high-risk areas from travelling to South Florida.

“The airport,  and with the federal government, are analyzing whether people can even travel from those countries, so irrespective of whether they have bought a ticket, irrespective of whether they have any infectious condition or not, they may not be allowed to travel from that country,” Suarez said.

“We have been preparing for this for approximately two months now,” City of Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said. “We have protocols in place. This is not the first emerging infectious disease that we have dealt with, and typically, what we do is modify those policies and procedures, so that they are adaptable to the specific virus.”

The festival is also required to update their safety plan, and it will be up to the city to decide if that is enough.

Suarez said, “In terms of our response at this point today, we are working with them. They have to update their safety plan, and based on that, if it’s to our satisfaction, we obviously have input as to whether or not we approve their updated life safety plan, and that’s something our fire department has done a magnificent job, I have to say. On getting ready for any potential outbreak, we’ll be analyzing it with their organizers.”

The mayor also added that the festival poses special challenges to city leaders.

“It’s particularly different because many of those mass aggregations, as opposed to say, for example, Miami Heat games, Wynwood or any other area where there is a mass aggregation of people, are specifically from people who are traveling to Miami, so there’s a lot of components that are involved,” Suarez said.

It remains unknown when the festival needs to present their updated safety plan, which city leaders will have the final say on.

Ultra is set to begin on Friday, March 20.

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