Don’t expect access to sands of Miami Beach until June, mayor says

Dan Gelber wants to see more testing in city before tourist industry can open, too

Jacksonville and other beaches may be opening up in Florida, but Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber says Miami Beach "isn't Jacksonville."

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Jacksonville and other beaches may be opening up in Florida, but Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber says Miami Beach "isn't Jacksonville."

On Saturday, he appeared on MSNBC telling a nationwide audience that Miami Beach is also "not a city built for social distance, so we have to be extra careful given the millions of people that would flock to our beaches."

It was in his Monday, April 20, COVID-19 update, sent in a video emailed to residents, where he broke the news that the city’s beaches wouldn’t reopen before early June.

See the mayor’s video address below

"We are not Jacksonville. If we open, it is certain that many many thousands will flock to our miles of open beaches on South Beach and North Beach and everywhere in between. Young people on permanent spring break and people just itching to get out. Enforcing some kind of limits on use would be a nightmare.. . . I'm sorry we will just have to do without beach access for the near future."

That’s when Gelber said that he could not foresee his city’s beaches opening until early June.

In the coming week there will be lessening of restrictions around parks, marinas and golf courses in Miami Beach, but no beaches.

“This is not a slackening of social distancing – but rather an attempt to provide more opportunities for exercise. Parks will be open without team sports – and golf courses will allow only one person per golf cart. The point is we have not reached a juncture where it makes sense to abandon social distancing . . .We are not out of the woods.”

Testing is also at the top of the mayor’s list. He told MSNBC that before he restarts the city’s tourism industry, he wants contact testing and other COVID-19 protective measures put in place. He mentioned the federal government’s aid, or what he believes is a lack thereof, to cities.

“You know, unfortunately, the federal government hasn’t been particularly kind to cities about a lot of things,” he said. “Frankly, this is just one of them. We’re going to get by. But it would be nice if somebody up there would notice that it’s not just my residents, we’re a small city, it’s the fact that we are the tip of the economic iceberg for the arrow . . . for the entire state.”

The latest numbers show Miami Beach with the fifth highest positive cases in Miami-Dade and Broward counties with close to 675 confirmed cases from test results per the Florida Department of Health.

About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local