MIAMI (WSVN) - City of Miami commissioners have voted unanimously to approve a resolution that will enable them to aggressively enforce the curfew currently in place as a measure to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
Commissioner Joe Carollo introduced on Thursday the resolution that would lead to more aggressive enforcement of the curfew, which extends from midnight until 6 a.m., as well as enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing.
“The curfew is currently in place. However, the city was not enforcing it,” said Carollo.
The passage of the resolution means certain businesses that are clearly breaking the rules will have to close between those hours.
“The governor has told us what we can’t do, and we believe we have some home rule powers to do what we believe is right,” said Miami Commissioner Ken Russell.
In a statement issued Thursday night, officials said the enforcement of the citywide curfew would go into effect beginning this weekend until further notice.
Carollo pointed to a recent rise in local coronavirus infections as the motive behind the crackdown.
“For the last week, our numbers have shot up,” he said. “We don’t want to, in any way, go back to what happened in mid-March that we closed down everything.”
On Thursday, the Florida Department of Health reported 11,335 new cases throughout the state.
Of those cases, 2,252 were reported in Miami-Dade County, with a positivity rate of 8.55%.
A total of 129 new deaths were also reported in the Sunshine State on Thursday.
Carollo said the nightlife in Miami is one of the reasons numbers continue to climb.
“We cannot allow a handful of businesses at night, where you have hundreds of people being packed into discotheques, bars without masks, with no regard for their safeguard, and further, no regard for the health and safety of the rest of us,” he said.
Carollo said the passing of the resolution means there will also be consequences for those who are not following the rules.
“If they’re not following, they will be closed immediately on the spot and fined,” he said, “and if need be, the city will make arrests.”
By tightening restrictions again, Carollo believes, it will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent even more economic impact.
“The last thing that Miami or Miami-Dade County government want to do is go back to mid-March where we were closing everybody down,” he said,
While the commission voted unanimously to enforce the curfew, there is one condition: once the COVID-19 positivity rate drops down to 5.5% on a 2-week rolling average, then the curfew can be lifted.
“Let’s be clear: health is the number 1 priority, but we can’t ignore the repercussions that cause this,” said Russell, “so we need to mitigate our health policies with proper economic policies. That means aid for those businesses and predictability for when they can open up again, and assistance with enforcing the rules to keep it safe.”
Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla said this isn’t just a health crisis, but an economic one as well.
“I think the curfew, the hour, the time doesn’t really matter. It’s not that much of an issue,” he said. “I think we need to be more proactive in increasing the amount of the fine, shutting down the bad actors, because they’re hurting the good actors, and they’re hurting a lot of people.”
Everyone agrees something needs to be done to keep COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations from continuing to rise.
While Miami Mayor Francis Suarez supports the commission’s decision, he said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order has limited them on what they are able to do to try to curb coronavirus cases.
“For me, there are many other solutions. We could have limited capacity, which we can’t do under the governor’s order,” he said. “We could fine people for not wearing masks, which we can’t do under the governor’s order, at least not collect the fines until the executive order is over, so if we would have had more tools, we could have done more things.”
“I think there’s a lot of confusion,” said one Miami resident. “We can only hope that it’s for the greater good.”
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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