Florida Enters Phase Three With Bars and Restaurants at Full Capacity — Effect on Miami-Dade Unclear UPDATED

Update September 25, 5:30 p.m. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez issued the following statement regarding Governor Ron DeSantis’ Emergency Order:

On Friday, September 25, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-244 that puts all of Florida into Phase 3 of the COVID-19 recovery plan.
Here’s what we know so far on what this means for Miami-Dade County:

The state will be in Phase 3 and all state restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted. However, this does not preclude the County from having its own rules, as approved by the state.

All businesses may reopen, but the County can still impose guidelines and protocols.

All restaurants, regardless of the size of their interior spaces, will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

Civil citations issued for violation of the mandatory mask order are suspended.
My staff and I are consulting with the County Attorney’s Office regarding the enforcement of the mask mandate at businesses. We want to ensure compliance with the state order, while also continuing to act in the best interests of our community.

Please note that the County curfew remains in place from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

We will continue to update residents and businesses on any further changes.

Editor’s note:
This is a developing story.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced earlier today that Florida has entered Phase Three of its “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan” — effectively allowing bars to reopen and restaurants to return to full capacity. DeSantis announced the news at the Birchwood Hotel in St. Petersburg, explaining that “every business has the right to operate.”

According to Phase Three protocols, Florida’s restaurants, nightclubs, bars, parks, gyms. movie theaters, shops, and nearly everything else can now fully reopen, including:

  • Restaurants and foodservice establishments may operate at full capacity with limited social distancing protocols. Businesses should maintain adequate sanitation practices among employees and patrons during all hours of operation. Menus, if laminated, should be cleaned after each usage. paper menus should be designed for single use.
  • Bars, pubs, and nightclubs that derive more than 50 percent of sales from alcohol should operate at full capacity with limited social distancing protocols. Businesses should maintain adequate sanitation practices among employees and patrons during all hours of operation. Menus, if laminated, should be cleaned after each usage. paper menus should be designed for single use.
  • Gyms and fitness centers should open to full capacity with adequate sanitation practices.
  • State parks and public beaches should remain fully open.
  • Large Venues such as movie theaters, concert halls, casinos, bowling alleys, arcades, playhouses, and auditoriums should reopen fully with limited social distancing procedures.
  • Large sporting events and theme parks should consider reducing capacity.
  • Retail businesses can operate at full capacity.
  • Vacation rentals can resume normal operating procedures but should continue to clean and disinfect the property between rentals.

In the past, South Florida’s Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties have tamped down the governor’s reopening plans, phasing them in more slowly.

But an industry alert released by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association states that the corresponding executive order DeSantis will release today will prohibit municipalities from restricting the reopening of businesses and that they “must be allowed to operate at least at 50 percent capacity, regardless of local rule.”

That would appear to allow Miami bars and clubs to reopen immediately, even if local governments object. It remains unclear how the announcement affects Miami-Dade. Media reports say Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez was caught off-guard by the governor’s announcement.

New Times has contacted Giménez’s office and will update this story as further information becomes available.