MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - If you refuse to wear a mask in Miami Beach this holiday weekend, you may now face a fine.
Starting on Wednesday until Sunday, the City of Miami Beach will issue citations to people who refuse to wear facial coverings.
“I think that’s the correct thing to do because especially during these times when the coronavirus rate is just increasing, people need to take care,” said Pedro Carvalho, who is visiting the area from Pennsylvania. He also added that in Philadelphia, “Everybody wears masks. Here, it’s like totally different. The majority of people don’t use masks.”
The City Miami Beach is working to turn the trend around with a move to enforce its mask mandate. Violators who refuse to put on a mask after being offered one will face a $50 fine.
“This is a very precarious moment and it’s important, we think, to remind people with the giving of a citation, if necessary, that they need to wear their masks,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
Enforcement is set for commercial areas that see a lot of foot traffic during the Thanksgiving holiday beginning Wednesday through Sunday.
Face covering enforcement came to a halt back in September when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order forbidding municipalities from fining people.
On Wednesday, DeSantis extended the executive order, but Miami Beach will continue to move forward with enforcement of face coverings in popular commercial areas.
“I don’t understand what his rationale is. I don’t understand his endgame,” Gelber said.
During a video message sent out on Wednesday, there was no mention of mask mandates from DeSantis, but he touched on new COVID-19 treatments coming to the state. With a vaccine possibly coming to Florida in December, he said there is a plan in place to get the vaccine to those that need it most.
“Our goal will be to provide vaccines to every resident of long-term care facilities throughout the state,” DeSantis said.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases across the country continue to surge. This week, the Florida Department of Health reported more than 23,000 new cases statewide, with the death toll eclipsing 18,000 residents.
Long lines of cars were seen at Hard Rock Stadium, the largest state-run site, in Miami Gardens as thousands rushed to get rapid results before Thanksgiving. A record 3,700 tests were administered by the site on Wednesday, and they will not be open on Thanksgiving.
Miami Beach said it’s still moving forward and will collect the fines once the governor’s order expires. It’s a plan other municipalities are keeping a close eye on.
“We’re going to see how they do it, see if it’s effective, and if it’s effective, maybe we’ll consider doing that, as well,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
Visitors and residents in Miami Beach expressed mixed feelings about the mask mandate.
“I probably won’t [put on a mask]. This isn’t Nazi Germany. I don’t need to produce papers, all right? I don’t need the government mandating what I’m going to do,” said Brian Rantz, who is visiting from Colorado. “If I’m gonna get sick, it’s free will, but this is a free country, you know? That’s how our constitution was written. I hope it doesn’t change.”
“I don’t know how I feel about the fines,” said Miami Beach resident Courtney Adante. “I think if you want to come out and take that risk, wear the mask according to the requirements, but if you don’t feel comfortable coming out and being in public because you’re worried about coronavirus, then don’t come out. If you will, I think it’s good to be respectful of others and wear the mask.”
“We have our masks with us, and they’re doing everything to keep us safe and I’m fine with that,” one woman said.
Some residents were unaware that the mandate had been put back into effect.
When told she could be fined for walking around without a mask, Vineeta Sharma said, “Oh, really? Oh, I didn’t know.”
With the recent spike in COVID cases, some residents feel the mask mandate makes sense.
“It’s slightly inconvenient, but that’s fine,” one woman said. “If it can help other people, then it’s good that way because cases are rising, so if everyone wears mask, it’s going to help.”
The policy will last through the holiday weekend.
Meanwhile, Miami International Airport officials expect the next 12 days to be the busiest travel period since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport officials expect more than 80,000 passengers to pass through on Saturday and Sunday, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising against travel this holiday season.
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