MIAMI (WSVN) - Business owners in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood said they have taken a financial hit, as concerns over the Zika virus and stormy weather kept crowds away this weekend.
The Mayor of Miami said some restaurants in Wynwood are down 50 percent in business and sales since Wynwood gained a national spotlight as being the hot spot for contracting the Zika virus in the United States.
Starting Tuesday, there will be free two hour parking in Wynwood to try to get business back to the area.
“Business has been down for a lot of them for the majority of the business has been down,” said a local business owner. “But with 300 of them are staying open. But we’re Wynwood and we’re going to weather this just like anything else.”
On Monday, the Wynwood Business Improvement District held an emergency meeting with local business owners to discuss the possibility of financial assistance for these businesses.
“The Board of Directors is going to put a resolution forward today,” said the business owner. “It’s the city county state center for emergency funding and marketing to bring tourism back to the area. You know, the way it was pre-Zika.”
Gov. Rick Scott will hold a round table discussion, Monday afternoon, about Zika in northern Florida.
Sunday morning, area residents were greeted by a familiar sight: a small airplane spraying insecticide aiming to eradicate the mosquitoes that may be spreading the virus before they even hatch. “You know, they passed by. They’ve been passing throughout the whole week, so it seems that they’re working on it,” said Gina Gonzalez.
County officials indicated the chemicals do not pose a health risk to humans. “Larvae use is very targeted, very specific. It only affects mosquito larvae,” said Frank Calderon, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Department of Solid Waste Management.
On Friday, the Florida Department of Health confirmed the number of confirmed cases coming from the Wynwood currently stands at 16.
The announcement came as a sobering wake-up call for some residents. “You just have to be a little more conscious, obviously, of your surroundings,” said Miami resident Anna Keeler, “and [that entails] wearing longer pants, putting on bug spray before you go out.”
Sunday evening, the sidewalks along Northwest Second Avenue, near 25th Street, were practically empty. “It would be sad if people aren’t coming because of the Zika virus,” said first-time visitor Lakota Knuckle.
A visitor expressed some anxiety about being in the Zika hot zone. “It doesn’t make me worried to be here tonight, but it makes me worried that it might spread,” he said.
Mirka Roch Harris with Miami Culinary Tours said she’s optimisitic about the meeting. “I think it’s necessary, and I think they’ll get [the funding], just to calm people down,” she said. “Wynwood is Wynwood, and I think people will still come here, but I think that, overall ,we just don’t want to freak the tourists out.”
While trucks made the rounds spraying insecticide, loyal locals said concerns over becoming infected are not enough to keep them them form their favorite hangouts. “I think it’s a shame that it’s hurting a lot of businesses,” said Alex Cordovi. “I mean, I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of. I feel like people should be coming here, stimulating the economy like they were before.”
During a South Florida visit on Tuesday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is expected to tour a health clinic to raise awareness about the public health threat.
Officials said the aerial sprays of mosquito pesticide will continue. If you would like to know about the chemicals being used over Wynwood, click on this link.
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