Miami-Dade residents say reopened parks and open spaces were ‘needed’

“We needed to get out of the house,” at least one resident said as the county allowed use of some public areas that had been closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The midweek soft launch of open spaces is bringing a feeling of calm to Jackie Smith and her daughter Megan at Matheson Hammock Marina.

“We needed it,” Smith said. “We needed to get out of the house.”

After sitting empty for weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, several Miami-Dade County parks, marinas and golf courses reopened Wednesday, to the delight of many residents who have been out and about.

“It feels a little bit like a step back into the direction of normalcy,” said Oscar Gonzalez, who was shooting hoops at Tropical Park.

Miami-Dade hired 400 workers to patrol the reopened county facilities and make sure people are following the rules, which include social distancing and wearing face coverings unless you’re exercising or have trouble breathing.

The county boat ramps will now be open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., with boats required to stay at least 50-feet apart.

Sgt. James Barrett of the Miami-Dade Police Marine Patrol says it’s a criminal offense if people don’t comply.

“I’m just happy that they opened the ramps so we can get out,” one boater said at Haulover Park. “As long as people aren’t tying up to each other and doing that kind of stuff, I think it’s a great idea to get people out of the house.”

Miami Beach is taking similar steps, reopening select city parks and golf courses.

“The first phase will include the opening of certain parks. But social distancing must be respected as we open up more of the great outdoors,” said Jimmy Morales, Miami Beach’s city manager.

Not all of the county’s cities are reopening yet, though.

City of Miami and Hialeah — which both have a high concentration of COVID-19 cases — say they’re not comfortable reopening parks at this time and will continue to monitor the data. Cutler Bay is also keeping its facilities closed.

Broward and Palm Beach counties coordinated their timing with Miami-Dade to also open their parks, marinas and golf courses Wednesday.

Beaches remain closed across the county, as do non-essential businesses.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez said, though, that he is looking forward to the release of recommendation from a working group that’s been considering how to reopen non-essential businesses, restaurants, hotels and attractions.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday that the state will start to reopen business on Monday, but that Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties will have to wait a little longer because of the high number of cases there.

See below for the full rules spelled out in Miami-Dade County’s emergency order to reopen parks, marinas and golf:

About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.