Miami-Dade restaurants prepare to reclose indoor dining areas amid COVID-19 surge

MIAMI (WSVN) - Restaurants in Miami-Dade are preparing to shut down indoor dining areas for a second round since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The restrictions, which go into effect Thursday, are part of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s ongoing efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19.

For Alessandro Pazzaglia, the owner of 1888 Fiaschetteria Miami in Wynwood, doing away with indoor dining again is a major setback.

“You don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and you don’t know what to do,” he said.

Pazzaglia, who has been serving pizza at his current location for six years, said he barely made it through the first shutdown caused by the pandemic.

Pazzaglia said he won’t make his rent, and his landlord is trying to evict him.

“I built this place six years ago with my hands, and if I have to leave, it’s going to break my heart,” he said.

Pazzaglia’s situation is similar to so many other business owners trying to make ends meet.

“Surviving with delivery and takeout was impossible,” he said.

The Miami-Dade closures are the latest efforts by the county to slow the spread of skyrocketing COVID-19 cases.

Wednesday morning, Florida health officials announced nearly 10,000 new cases the virus, bringing the statewide total to date to 223,783. Of those cases, 53,794 are in Miami-Dade County.

Members of the medical community are sounding the alarm. Dr. Nicholas Namias, the medical director of Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, said they’ve had to find creative ways to allocate space because beds are filling up fast.

“We’re not looking at anything apocalyptic going on in the hospital, but we are flirting every day with the edge of capacity,” he said.

According to the state, less than 20% of intensive care unit beds in the area are available.

“It’s a balancing act to create new capacity for isolation beds while maintaining as much of the routine services as possible,” said Namias.

Doctors and nurses are also working around the clock. Earlier this week, Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to send dozens more nurses.

Meanwhile, Gimenez said there is still room to expand.

“Even though we have 400 and something ICU beds and 300 of them are being used right now, we have the capacity also to add another 500,” said Gimenez.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said on Wednesday that it could take some time to have a more accurate picture of how many people in Florida are infected due to the Fourth of July weekend.

“Holiday weekends can impact data on both ends: underreporting through the weekend and then catchup reporting on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” she said.

As for Pazzaglia, he has hired attorney Ben Wolkov with the AXS Law Group to help save his business.

“Alessandro is someone who works his tail off,” said Wolkov. “For someone like Alessandro, who has been here for six years, who has never been late in paying rent, I think it’s really been a gut punch for him.”

“There’s always a solution in everything, but it’s going to be another challenge,” said Pazzaglia.

In addition to takeout and delivery, restaurants in Miami-Dade will be able to offer outdoor seating until 10 p.m.

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