Can the government limit the amount of people on a charter boat?

(WSVN) - The coronavirus pandemic has been hard on everyone.

But even after the government allowed boats to reenter the water, things didn’t get better for everyone in the industry. Especially Howard Albert.

Howard Albert: “It’s not a real profitable business. Boats are really expensive to run.”

Albert said it’s tough to make a living in good times, and obviously impossible during these times.

Howard Albert: “I’ve not had a charter on our boat, the Fintastic, since I think was middle of March.”

Then in May, Miami-Dade County opened the marinas and let owners like Howard start booking charters again.

But then the confusion started.

Howard Albert: “According to the mayor’s website, we are only allowed to take four people per charter, per boat, versus we used to take six.”

Boats like Howard’s are called six-packs, meaning they take six friends or six family members out fishing.

Howard Albert: “We don’t do like one person from here and one person from there, strictly private charters, so the people all know each other. They’re all families.”

Allowing four people instead of six may not seem like a big difference, but it has turned out to be just that.

“Most people have families. It’s usually more than four all the time, so we can’t take more than four, we lose the charter.”

Howard said he has not had a single charter with the new number, and further frustrating him, he watches smaller boats go by with many more passengers.

“The mayor rules according to the website, that a 23-foot private boat can take up to 10 people. We are twice that size.”

The owner of a 25-footer can take 10 friends on his personal boat.

Howard can only take four people on his 40-foot charter boat.

Howard Albert: “It does not make any sense to any of us.”

So the Fintastic sits at the dock as Howard fears his charter business will be sunk.

Howard Albert: “It’s not going to be pretty soon because everyone is going to be out of business. We can’t sustain this.”

Howard, does the county have the authority to pass rules that the people affected say makes no sense?

Howard Finklestein, 7News legal expert: “The county is trying to do the right thing, but limiting a 40-foot charter boat to four people while allowing a private boat half the size to have ten people is illogical and scientifically makes no sense. If you went to court I believe a judge would say you have to change it and let the charters take six as they did before the virus hit.”

If a business requires a face mask and you don’t wear it, they can throw you out, but if a condo board requires a mask in the common area and you see people without one, can a resident do anything?

Howard Finklestein: “A resident cannot go after the mask violators, but the association’s board can pass a rule that will allow them to fine people for not wearing a mask in the common area, the same as you fine residents who don’t pick up after their dogs. Then the management company or the board will enforce their new rule.”

Many condo owners trying to sell their homes are being told they cannot bring potential buyers in to see the units. Can a board block them?

Howard Finklestein: “The real estate industry has been declared essential. Therefore, I believe, a board cannot block a potential buyer from seeing a property. The only thing they can do is require them to wear a mask.”

Howard Albert: “Opened the flood gates, which is great because we have two months of catch up to do.”

Its probably a coincidence, but a few days after we contacted the mayor’s office about the problem, they let them return to their normal capacity.

Howard Albert: “So if you’ve got cabin fever and you’re ready to get out of the house and get out there and do some fishing, get some fresh air, it’s a perfect thing to do.”

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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