Miami-Dade County to close dining rooms, gyms, short-term rentals amid surge in coronavirus cases

Mayor says beaches may re-open, but says he may be 'forced to close the beaches again' if there is 'crowding'

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Monday is expected to sign an emergency order that closed indoor restaurant dining rooms, party venues, gyms and short-term rental businesses, as the state experiences a surge in positive cases of the novel coronavirus.

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The order is set to go into effect Wednesday, July 8.

"I am continuing to roll back business openings as we continue to see a spike in the percent of positive COVID-19 tests and an uptick in hospitalizations," Gimenez said Monday.

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The emergency order includes restaurant closures — except for takeout and delivery services — ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues, gyms and fitness centers, and short-term rentals.

At this point, Gimenez said he plans to keep open various outdoor activities, including condominium and hotel pools with "strict" social distancing and masks rules, as well as summer camps and child daycare centers with capacity limits.

A pedestrian, wearing a mask to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, walks down Miami Beach, Florida's famed Ocean Drive on South Beach, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

According to the mayor’s office, residents in Miami-Dade County are still expected to follow a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. countywide curfew, with exceptions for essential workers and for those who have "a religious obligation."

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Gimenez noted Monday that county officials are still tracking the spike in coronavirus cases, specifically those involving individuals 18 to 34 years old, and that medical experts say the surge was caused by a number of factors, including young people "going to congested places" and failing to follow "precautions such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing."

"Contributing to the positives in that age group, the doctors have told me, were graduation parties, gatherings at restaurants that turned into packed parties in violation of the rules and street protests where people could not maintain social distancing and where not everyone was wearing facial coverings," Gimenez said. "We can tamp down the spread if everyone follows the rules, wears masks and stays at least six feet apart from others."

He added: "I am counting on you, our 2.8 million residents, to stop the spread so that we can get back to opening our economy."

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Gimenez urged residents to report violations, and reminded that "if you don’t have to go out, remember, you are safer at home."

Gimenez's statement came as Florida health officials on Sunday announced more than 200,000 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began earlier this year.

The latest state statistics showed an additional 10,000 confirmed cases. The highest number of confirmed cases in a single day came Saturday when more than 11,400 cases were reported.

As of Sunday, some 3,731 people have died. Of all cases, around 43 percent were in just three counties: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

Gimenez, prior to the Fourth of July holiday, closed beaches in his county for the weekend, saying he was "very concerned" about the surge.

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"It was a tough decision, but I had to make it," Giménez said. "I did not want to overcrowd the beaches with young people, and we've seen a tremendous spike in positive cases from young people and that’s very concerning."

Miami-Dade County announced its beaches would close from July 3 through July 7.

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On Monday, Gimenez said that beaches will remain open for now, but warned that "if we see crowding and people not following the public health rules, I will be forced to close the beaches again."