(WSVN) - Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has announced all restaurants in the county can reopen at 50% capacity.
The mayor made the announcement during a virtual press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
“Today, we’re announcing that after consultation with our medical advisors and also from the White House Task Force, we’ve made a decision to allow indoor dining at restaurants to commence next Monday,” he said.
The announcement is a welcome change for Xilonem Piper and her family, who prefer to eat outside of restaurants.
“I was still prepared to eat outside, but it’s nice that that option is available,” Xilonem said. “We’ve been going, but mostly to — we pick up or we eat outside of the restaurants. You just gotta wear your summer clothes or your beach attire.”
German Barchietto, manager of Bakan in Wynwood, said they were excited by the mayor’s surprise announcement of the return of indoor dining.
“We weren’t expecting it, but we’re very happy about it,” he said.
Back in July, Gimenez banned indoor dining at all county restaurants in response to the record rise in COVID-19 cases.
Barchietto said the loss of indoor seating took a huge bite out of Bakan’s lunchtime rush, and employees really felt it in their wallets.
“It’s been a rollercoaster, you know, it was always up and down. We closed for about two months completely, then we reopened back up,” he said.
Thanks to the steady drop in new COVID cases, hospital admissions and the positivity rate, officials gave the green light to relax restrictions on indoor dining.
However, it won’t be business as usual.
“The rules will be established,” Gimenez said. “There will be up to six people in a table, indoors and out. We want, if possible, if you have windows, the windows should be open in restaurants even in interior spaces. The doors should be open also for interior spaces of restaurants, and the air conditioning needs to be on all the time, not on automatic.”
On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported just over 2,600 new cases of COVID-19 statewide, with 773 in Miami-Dade, 201 in Broward and two in Monroe.
“Last time, our numbers were not very high, and they opened the indoor dining and the bars and stuff, and the numbers rose,” Xilomen said.
While local businesses prepare to open their dining doors again, some said they still weren’t sold on the idea of eating inside.
“Probably not when I can just cook at home,” Nina Johnson said.
“I’m surprised because I feel like corona is still really bad right now,” Lucy Tackett said.
Restaurants can seat patrons indoors starting Aug. 31.
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