MIAMI (WSVN) - Miami-Dade County officials have announced the closure of restaurant dining rooms, gyms, banquet halls and more across the county in response to concerns over the COVID-19 virus.
Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Jennifer Moon made the announcement in a Tuesday morning press conference.
“The only way to get ahead of COVID-19 and stop the spread of this virus is by taking some very extraordinary actions,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.
Among the closures are restaurants, bars, taverns, clubs, nightclubs, banquet halls, cabarets, breweries, cafeterias, and any alcohol and food service with seating for more than eight people.
7News cameras captured some activity along Lincoln Road, Tuesday night. It was more quiet than usual, however, as cafes cleared the tables and began closing their doors.
The Regal Cinemas South Beach multiplex at the corner of Lincoln and Alton Road was closed.
In Brickell, outdoor patios were nearly empty, as restaurants are only filling take-out orders.
The closures will likely leave thousands of people without paychecks for the foreseeable future.
“We really think it’s important for the government — for the state and federal government — to give workers some relief from the anxiety and the economic hardship they are going to be confronting,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said.
Kitchens can remain open for drive-thru pick up and delivery.
Business owners like Stephen Sawitz of Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach know that the closures will hurt the restaurants’ bottom line, but understand how important of a decision it is.
“It’s a very empty and sad feeling,” Sawitz said. “We’re going to pay everybody for two weeks, especially the hourlies, keep them sustained and let them be with their families, take care of their families.”
“This was inevitable. It’s something that can’t be stopped, for the good of all the community,” said Felipe Valls Jr., the owner of Versailles in Little Havana.
Atena, a 25-year-old server at the popular Finnegan’s Road bar on Lincoln Road, said she’s worried about the future.
“Everyone is going to lose their jobs,” she said. “We’re not going to be able to pay our rent, to pay our everything.”
Gamze Sahmar and her husband moved to South Florida from Turkey two years ago to open up their dream business, Kitchenette, just off Lincoln Road, but she said the future of the restaurant and its employees is in question
“Of course, [we need] to pay our bills,” said Sahmar.
The question on everyone’s mind is, “How long will these closures last?”
While there is no definite answer, Gelber said, “We need to start doing this now, so that we can hopefully get out of this dark moment as fast as possible.”
The City of Fort Lauderdale also announced similar closures to help prevent the virus’ spread. These measures will be in place for the next 30 days.
“This is a time for shared sacrifice, as our nation faces one of the greatest crises, a virus that spreads with ease for which there is no standard cure or treatment,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said.
The closures do not apply to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations or convenience stores as they are essential businesses. However, seating areas in these places will be closed.
The order also applies to all movie theaters, concert houses, play houses, auditoriums, bowling alleys, arcades, gyms and fitness centers.
Jonas Grabarnick, a partner at ADAPT gym in North Miami, which had recently moved into a bigger space, taught clients how to work out from home on Tuesday, and he did it over Instagram.
Gyms that accommodate less than eight people, or that are part of a residential building or police or fire station are exempt.
Failure to comply with the closures could result in a criminal charge.
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