MIAMI (WSVN) - The mayors of Miami-Dade and Broward counties have announced plans to open up some of the counties’ public spaces with restrictions.
Speaking at a press conference Monday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said parks, marinas and golf courses will reopen on Wednesday.
“Let me stress that the openings happening this Wednesday are not business as usual,” Gimenez said. “This is a new normal because you will have to do things a little bit differently to enjoy the outdoors. If people do not abide by the rules, they will be escorted out.”
Meanwhile, Broward County issued an emergency order on Tuesday night to open up the same way Miami-Dade County will.
“We’re going to open our recreational facilities, golf courses, boat ramps, marinas,” Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said. “Social distancing must be observed at all times.”
Certain parks, natural areas, boat ramps, marinas, golf courses, pools and other amenities throughout Broward County will be open for limited use.
Activities like walking, running and jogging will be allowed at open parks, while the use of park buildings, picnic tables, chairs, playgrounds, campgrounds, pools and outdoor exercise equipment will remain prohibited.
All public and private boating ramps, piers and marinas can reopen with limitations from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., but all beaches in the county will remain closed.
Employees at the Lauderdale Marina are preparing for a crowd.
“We’re just washing our hands and sanitizing everything as much as we could,” said Bill Lawler with Lauderdale Marina. “People have been jolting to get out on their boats, there’s nothing else to really do.”
Boat Therapy IV Sport Fishing Captain Stan Saffan said he is eager to get back to business.
“We can take six customers in the near future, where the chairs are spaced six feet apart from each other so the people would never have to be near each other or touch each other,” said Saffan.
Miami-Dade County has hired around 400 people to help enforce social distancing rules.
“The facilities will be used in limited ways that require everyone to take personal responsibility and act as if they had the coronavirus,” Gimenez said.
Most parks in Miami-Dade will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with special hours for seniors.
“I think people are excited,” said Kenny Fill with Shula’s Golf Club. “People need to get outside again. For the mind, this is going to be so beneficial for people to get out again.”
Fill said they are adding some of their own precautions at the golf club and putting signs around the property to remind golfers to keep social distance. Now golf balls will not go into the hole, as a piece of pool noodle fills the cup.
“Now all the ball has to do is hit the noodle and it is considered holed,” he said.
Tee times will also be 15 minutes apart and there will be no shared golf carts.
Even with the new restrictions in place, Shula’s Golf Club is reserved for the next two days.
“The demand went through the roof,” said Fill. “We want our guests to be patient. We want them to understand that we’re trying to maintain social distancing.”
Organized competitive play is prohibited, except for singles tennis.
On basketball courts, up to three players are allowed on a half-court to take turns throwing the ball. Each person must have their own basketball.
Bathrooms at Kendall Indian Hammocks Park in Southwest Miami-Dade will be sanitized four times a day.
For marinas and waterways in Dade, boats must be 50 feet apart at all times, Jet Skis must have a single rider and there must be no more than 10 people on a vessel (dependent on size).
Miami-Dade Police are prepared to enforce social distancing orders.
“Our department has a zero tolerance policy that we will be taking into effect,” said Miami-Dade Police Det. Angel Rodriguez. “Anywhere from educating, all the way up to fines, and depending on the circumstances, could even result in an arrest.”
The move comes as other parts of Florida begin loosening restrictions, even as the state’s COVID-19 total cases surpassed 32,000.
“I’m really skeptical to be honest, but I would love to see things reopen as soon as possible,” said Miami Beach resident Axel Campailla.
“Not too crazy about it,” said Coral Gables resident Barbara Obregon. “I don’t think people are taking this seriously. I mean I’m dying to come to the beach, that’s why I’m here, to get some fresh air, but I think it’s too soon.”
Municipalities across South Florida are working on their own plans to reopen. Key West has opened parks, recreational facilities and beaches to residents.
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who recently battled COVID-19, said he is not ready to open the city’s public spaces, but when the time comes, he outlined his strategy for the first phase.
“We are going to be cautious,” Suarez said. “Our parks, our beach, which is Virginia Key, and marinas with strict adherence of social distancing of six feet or more.”
Over in Miami Beach, some parks and recreational facilities will also open with restrictions on Wednesday. All municipal parking at parks will only be for Miami Beach residents, and their vehicles have to be registered with the city’s parking program.
On the state level, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke about plans to get the state back to business.
“This is going to be slow and steady wins the race,” DeSantis said. “It’s going to be very methodical, very data-driven, and there’s probably going to be some people that think it’s too slow, and I get that.”
The governor’s Re-Open Florida task force spent last week on countless conference calls working to come up with a plan to reopen the state.
Meanwhile, Florida Democratic leaders believe the governor is moving too quickly.
“When I heard that the governor had put together a task force to reopen the economy, the first thought that came to my mind is, ‘Why is he not putting a task force to fix the broken unemployment system?'” U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., said.
“The keys to reopening our economy are testing and monitoring,” U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., said. “I know this because medical professionals and pandemic specialists have told us this time and time again. The GOP has shunned science and experts for years. In the long term, it will return to normalcy once we actually have a vaccine.”
Florida’s stay-at-home order is set to expire on Thursday.
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