Judge rules Miami-Dade cannot enforce curfew on businesses; county appeals

MIAMI (WSVN) - Following a judge’s ruling, Miami-Dade County officials said they cannot enforce its current curfew, extending from midnight until 6 a.m., on businesses that want to remain open during those hours, prompting an appeal from the county.

Saturday’s announcement elicited sighs of relief for some businesses in South Florida.

“We’e ready for everyone to come back, as long as everyone is practicing social distancing, wearing the masks,” said Yanni Kralievits at Nostimo Greek Kitchen in Wynwood. “Eighty-five percent of my money was made between 10 [p.m.] and 4 or 5 in the morning.”

Now the lights can stay on after midnight.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez did give a stern warning on Saturday.

“If people start to party after midnight, and they start to drink, and then you have mass gatherings, that’s going to be a problem,” he said.

The county’s announcement comes one day after Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Beatrice Butchko issued a temporary injunction preventing the county from enforcing the curfew.

The ruling stems from lawsuit filed by the adult entertainment venue Tootsie’s Cabaret that challenged the county’s emergency order.

In the injunction, Butchko wrote in part, “The Miami-Dade curfew orders conflict with executive order 20-244 because they prohibit Tootsie’s from operating; they prohibit employees and contractors from working; and they reduce capacity to zero for the entire time subject to the curfew.”

In a statement issued Saturday, Gimenez wrote, “As of right now, the county cannot enforce the curfew at businesses until resolution of the appeal. From a practical matter, the curfew is unenforceable until the appeal is settled by the courts.”

The county enacted the curfew to help curb the spread of COVID-19, but when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed the state into Phase 3 last month, his executive order blocked local municipalities from keeping businesses closed.

Passers-by in Wynwood Saturday night expressed mixed feelings about the curfew and its lifting.

“I think the curfew is probably good, but there’s a lot of loss and income and stuff like that,” said a woman.

“Every day is a new day with corona. You just have to adapt, and you just have to adjust, and you just have to know your business,” said Kralievits, “and it’s either you want to handle it, or you don’t.”

“We will continue to enforce all the rules and measures that we put in place — mask wearing, the social distancing — and then those businesses have to continue to adhere to the rules that we put in order to protect the people of Miami-Dade County,” said Gimenez.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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