MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – As Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez looks ahead to reopening the county, he said in a news conference Saturday that open spaces could be some of the first locations to change restrictions from the shutdown due to the coronavirus.
“You’ll see something sooner rather than later. Our open spaces are something we need to do,” said Gimenez.
As he confers with a task force to decide how best to do this, he wants to hear from the community on the reopening plan of the county, so he’s taking questions on Facebook and Twitter beginning Sunday.
On Monday, he will host a virtual town meeting on those social media platforms where people can get their questions answered and tune in to see where the county is heading amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The aim is to receive community input on the reopening plan as the county continues its response to the COVID-19 crisis,” according to an advisory from the mayor’s office.
He said that the focus of the virtual town hall would be about parks, open spaces and waterways. There was no mention of businesses.
At a news conference on Saturday, Gimenez said, “We need to start thinking about how we are going to open up, and do it in a way that limits the spread of the virus. When we reopen, it’ll be in a safe manner,” he said.
Anyone is invited to submit their questions starting Sunday, and the accounts will also be monitored during Monday’s meeting so that the questions can be answered while the live meeting is going on.
Some people in the county are already weighing in, clearly still concerned and fearful about the spread of COVID-19. Comments like, “Why can’t we keep South Florida closed? I believe that re-opening at this time would be a huge mistake.” One woman said it is “not even a priority.”
Commenters cited the scene in Jacksonville where hundreds of people flocked to beaches after the mayor there allowed it to reopen for limited hours. Gimenez said he saw the scenes of mask-less beachgoers defying social distancing guidelines. “Yes, I saw the images,” Gimenez said Saturday, “but I think we need to move forward.”
My virtual town hall is Monday at 4, live on Twitter. We need your input on our reopening plan for open spaces. Medical experts & leaders will be available to comment on the planning. We don't have a timeline to reopen, but we'd like to hear your questions in the replies below. pic.twitter.com/eEzMzSgYXC— Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez (@MayorGimenez) April 19, 2020
On Sunday, he did write on his Twitter account: “I’ve seen a lot of buzz on social media from people who think beaches in Miami-Dade County are opening up. This is not the case. Although we’re consulting with medical experts on the future opening of public spaces, there is currently no timeline for opening beaches.”
Others commenting left remarks on the mayor’s Facebook page about how eager they were to see restrictions lifted and believe it can happen safely. One person wrote, “Open up the boat ramps and marinas!” Another said, “I think people need the fresh air and exercise.”
Gimenez will have a panel at Monday’s town meeting from the medical field and various industries to comment on the different phases of reopening.
Miami-Dade County has the highest confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state at 9,166 with 202 deaths from complications from COVID-19.