(WSVN) - Cigar bars are allowed to stay open but not hookah lounges, and people can play tennis together but not volleyball. The COVID rules are causing confusion for some in South Florida, in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Labor Day celebrates hardworking Americans, like Claudia, where every day is a labor of love.
Claudia Herman: “I work 15 hours a day approximately. I love my business.”
Claudia has owned D’vine Hookah Lounge for 17 years. A place to eat, drink, and of course, smoke flavored tobaccos through a hookah.
Then Miami-Dade’s mayor sent her business up in a puff of smoke.
Claudia Herman: “It’s sad, because, since they put ban, my business went down 90%.”
The county order said Claudia can sell drinks, can serve food, but can’t allow customers to smoke hookah, even though Claudia says it’s safe since she doesn’t allow them to share the hookah.
Claudia Herman: “This is a disposable hose. You use it once, and then every person gets a mouthpiece. You smoke, you throw it out, you come back, you disinfect the hookah.”
Claudia says the county order is also unfair, because while one person can’t smoke a hookah, people are smoking in a cigar bar.
Claudia Herman: “This is the same as smoking a cigarette, smoking a cigar, smoking a vapor, and the other people are allowed to smoke.”
Claudia is right. We went to a cigar bar that is open.
So, Howard, why can people smoke a cigar in one shop but not a hookah in another?
Howard Finkelstein: “In Miami-Dade, the emergency order specifically says hookah bars can open for food and alcohol but not smoking hookah. Why can a cigar bar be open? It doesn’t make much sense, so the county needs to either close cigar bars or open hookah bars, but not treat them differently. That doesn’t seem fair.”
The county told us if they hear about a cigar bar with people smoking, they will explain the rules to the owner.
For Kiara, volleyball is also a labor of love.
Kiara Alietti: “I’ve been playing for such a long time, and it’s just become my life. I absolutely love it.”
Playing volleyball is fun right now for the 16-year-old, and it’s also part of her future.
Kiara Alietti: “I want to play college volleyball, and in order to do that, I need to practice, practice, practice, practice.”
But Kiara can’t practice on Miami Beach because the county says no activity with two or more people is allowed.
Kiara says that makes no sense.
Kiara Alietti: “Gyms have already been opened, and they’re enclosed. There’s hundreds of gear that people are going to be constantly touching.”
If Kiara practiced in the fresh air with another player, she would get in trouble, but 50 people can work out in a gym side by side.
The teenage Kiara thinks she knows why she is treated differently.
Kiara Alietti: “I feel like they’re so focused on, like, what makes money, like beach volleyball isn’t going to make money for them.”
In Dade and Broward, two people can’t play volleyball on the beach, but 50 people can work out in a gym.
Howard, legally, does that make sense?
Howard Finkelstein: “No, and people can play tennis but cannot play volleyball. What’s clear here is the rules are vague, and while the government officials say they are just relying on their medical experts, something is wrong. It’s been nearly seven months, and it’s now clear businesses and people are not being treated equally, and it’s the job of the government officials to correct the unequal treatment.”
Kiara’s request: it can’t hurt for two people to play volleyball on the beach.
Kiara Alietti: “I would say to the officials: ‘Open the courts, please.’”
Claudia’s belief: the county is about to crush her and her employees.
Claudia Herman: “It’s like 25 families that will go out of business. We will not have a job. It’s really sad, and it’s like nobody cares.”
It’s just heartbreaking to see a business you spent 17 years creating go down the drain and they can’t do anything about it, and we hear from so many business owners seeing their dreams dissolve from COVID logic that makes no sense to them.
Howard Finkelstein: “Complain to the heads of your county. Maybe you can convince them to do something, and if you have a problem you want us to solve, a COVID question we can answer, get in touch with us. We will do our best to help you out.”
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