Why Can’t Arcades Reopen During COVID-19 Pandemic?

(WSVN) - A massage parlor can open. A gym can open, but an arcade cannot open. It’s another case of closure confusion. Plus, do poll workers have to disinfect after each voter? Those questions and more in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Before video games, pinball machines were the rage, and arcades were a place to play. Key word: were.

Rick Medina, Arcade Odyssey: “We’ve been called the last real arcade in South Florida.”

Rick Medina owns Arcade Odyssey in Kendall.

Rick Medina: “We went ahead, and we created this place to basically give teenagers and young adults a place to go and to enjoy themselves inexpensively.”

Lots of fun until the coronavirus hit, and Miami-Dade County bumped him out of business.

Rick Medina: “That basically stipulates that all arcades must remain closed.”

Now, the machines are silent, baffling Rick since many similar businesses have been allowed to reopen.

Rick Medina: “I believe gyms can be riskier, barber shops, massage parlors, tattoo shops. How am I riskier than these other businesses? That’s all I’m asking. Just give me that answer.”

Rick has 130 machines spread out over 4,000 square feet. He says he can easily put a dozen customers 10 feet apart, and he tried to explain that to county officials.

Rick Medina: “I’ve been calling the mayor’s office almost every day, sending emails, reaching out to my commissioners, and they all tell me the same thing, ‘Rick, we don’t have an answer for you. We don’t know why you are closed.'”

And Rick argues months after the virus hit, it’s clear to him the county’s reason for shutting businesses like his has not worked.

Rick Medina: “If closing small businesses was going to make such a deep impact, don’t you think after four months of small businesses being closed, the numbers would have gone down a little bit, not climbed astronomically?”

Rick sees no hope on the horizon, so Howard, can the county continue to target certain business owners who disagree with the county’s logic for closing them down?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “Even if Rick thinks it makes no sense to open a massage parlor and a gym but close an arcade and a bowling alley, the government has the power to do that during an emergency. The only solution: Rick could get together with owners of similar non-essential businesses and ask a judge to overrule the county and let them reopen.”

A restaurant owner who went out of business asked us if he has the right to go back in and take his equipment out.

Howard Finkelstein: “In a commercial lease, if you owe money, the landlord can keep the equipment, and if you try to take your own equipment, it could actually be a crime.”

A viewer emailed and said he has the coronavirus and wants to take hydroxychloroquine, which President Trump has touted, but his doctor won’t prescribe it. Can a physician refuse?

Howard Finkelstein: “Absolutely. It requires a prescription, and if a doctor doesn’t believe it’s appropriate, they can refuse to prescribe it, but if a physician thinks it will work, they can prescribe it.”

Early voting for the August election started in Miami-Dade and starts soon in Broward. A viewer who voted said they were not disinfecting the booths and pens after every voter. What are the requirements?

Howard Finkelstein: “It’s up to the county. For example, in Miami-Dade, they told us they let the poll workers decide whether to disinfect after every voter or every hour, and remember, you can bring you own pen to fill out your ballot. Just make sure it’s blue or black ink.”

As for why Rick’s arcade is closed and massage parlors and gyms are opened, the spokesperson wrote, “be assured that Mayor Gimenez makes all decisions based on the research and expert opinions of his team of doctors.”

Rick’s response: The only thing that can be assured, many more businesses are going to be gone forever.

Rick Medina: “It’s just going to put everyone out of business and get us all on welfare really, really quick, and that’s what we are seeing.”

Rick says he is going to hire an attorney to try to get a judge to reopen his arcade.

Got a COVID problem you can’t figure out or a question you need answered? Get in touch with us. You are why we are here.

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

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