Miami mayor warns businesses that violate COVID-19 guidelines could face long shutdowns

COCONUT GROVE, FLA. (WSVN) - - City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said local businesses caught violating new normal guidelines could be closed down for weeks.

In a news conference held Monday, Suarez said the strict measures are being put in place as part of an ongoing effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“What we’re trying to do is be surgical and avoid an industry-wide shutdown,” he said.

The mayor’s announcement comes less than a week after the city imposed a mask mandate.

Suarez said businesses caught breaking the rules could now be closed down a lot longer than 24 hours.

“First offense is a 10-day shutdown, second offense is a 15-day shutdown, and the third offense is a 30-day shutdown and/or arrest,” he said.

As South Florida struggles to control a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, city leaders said they have seen some encouraging signs in terms of available ventilators in hospitals.

However, Suarez said, there is still a long way to go.

“The average of new cases per day is 61 new cases per day. To put that number in context, prior to the shutdown, the highest that we got was 34 new cases per day,” he said.

To date, the mayor said, only five businesses in the city have been closed for breaking new normal guidelines.

One of them was Astra, a restaurant in Wynwood. It was shut down for 24 hours after police found violations.

“Be patient with us, because with 50% capacity, it is hard to accommodate everyone, but we will try our best,” said Alejandro Garcia, Astra’s general manager.

Suarez reiterated that business owners could face jail time after the third offense.

The mayor also has a message for residents who think the city is going too far.

“It’s better than shutting down a second time, right?” he said.

Hours after Suarez’s announcement, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber confirmed a mask mandate for his city.

“We will now require people who are not socially distancing to wear masks everywhere, including condo common areas and hotels,” said Gelber in a video message.

The mayor said anyone caught violating the mandate could be fined $50.

“We’re also adding civil penalties for failure to wear masks. They range from verbal warnings to fines,” he said. “This should make it easier for police to enforce these rules.”

Monday night, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued an amendment to an emergency order banning restaurants from serving alcohol for on-site consumption between midnight and 6 a.m.

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