Miami Beach has issued $14,400 in fines to mask violators

MIAMI BEACH. Fla. (AP) — Police and city officials in Miami Beach have issued $14,400 in fines to people who weren’t wearing facial coverings to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

One man was issued a citation after he had taken his mask off to answer his phone, while another was walking alone and maskless on a quiet street, the Miami Herald reported.

The city has issued 288 $50 fines since July 23, the newspaper reported. Only four violators had paid as of Monday, officials said. Each violator has 30 days to pay the fine, which cannot be appealed to the city. Failure to pay could result in an additional fine of up to $500 and a criminal misdemeanor charge of violating an executive order, which can carry up to 60 days in jail.

Body-camera footage from Miami Beach Code Compliance captured three stops from July 23, which offers a glimpse into how the city enforces its order, the newspaper reported. Each inspection began the same way, with a code officer taking a photo of the alleged violator, and then approaching to ask for ID to write the ticket.

“I had no idea,” said one man told an officer who approached him.. “I mean there’s tons of people walking around with no masks.”

In another instance, a code officer threatened to call the police if a man did not provide his ID. The man was a tourist from Louisiana who had stopped to read a restaurant menu. He wasn’t wearing a mask and told the officer he didn’t know they were required at all times.

He asked the code officer to apply the law consistently as he noted other people walking along the South Beach promenade without masks, the newspaper reported.

“I understand when I sit down or if I walk into a building, I’ll have it to put it on,” he said. “I didn’t know you needed it (outdoors).”

In Miami-Dade County, a similar ordinance issued July 16 comes with a $100 fine. So far, Miami-Dade police have issued 225 citations.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said in a public video address Friday that recent decreases in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Miami-Dade County should not imply that countermeasures are no longer required.

“Just wear the damn mask,” he said. “It’s not a political statement. It’s a statement that you care enough to make this very modest sacrifice.”

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