FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry told commissioners Tuesday there is a consensus among the county’s 31 municipalities to begin the Phase 1 reopening of museums, restaurants, hair and nail salons and other non-essential businesses on Monday.
Henry made the announcement during a commission’s workshop meeting. She said the commissioners’ feedback will help her “tweak” the county-wide guidelines, which will allow restaurants to reopen at 25% capacity and to expand outdoor seating areas.
Henry said Broward has met the federal requirements to start reopening and Gov. Ron DeSantis will likely be approving the county’s plan and executive order just in time for Monday.
“I am coordinating with Miami-Dade this afternoon just to see where they are,” Henry said about strategies to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease in South Florida.
Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said there aren’t enough policing resources to make sure residents are following safety measures such as wearing a face mask, yet getting people back to work is necessary.
“We have to balance the health, but also the economy, and I know many people are hurting with the economy out there,” Holness said citing the April unemployment report.
District 5 Commissioner Steve Geller, who was sworn in as vice mayor in November, and Henry both said this is why there is a need for a public service announcement strategy.
“We need to let the public know that just because businesses are reopening it’s not back to normal,” Geller said.
Henry said the state and the federal government is providing testing and personal protective equipment, but Broward is also working on improving self-sufficiency.
NOT OPENING BEACHES YET
District 4 Commissioner Lamar Fisher and District 6 Commissioner Beam Furr said they want Broward to reopen beaches soon. Furr said the mayors of coastal cities have a “pretty good” social distancing plan.
“I don’t understand why we can’t open beaches for exercise-swimming, walking, snorkeling," Fisher said.
Holness said there is a need to coordinate the reopening of the beaches with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. He also wants to see how Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner’s plan to reopen beaches on Monday works out.
“I want a balanced, careful, and safe reopening. There is no such thing as a safe opening to a beach," District 1 Commissioner Nan Rich said. “I believe we need to start with a Phase 1 that is phased in and I don’t think beaches should be part of that.”
District 3 Commissioner Michael Udine said drive-in movie theaters should be open and restaurants should be allowed to open at 50% capacity. Henry said Miami-Dade County “would like to go to 50%, but they know that they can’t.”
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who did not participate in the meeting, said the city is considering allowing restaurants to reopen with a limited 15 to 25% capacity.
“I know that we are being pressured into reopening, but from a health perspective some things cause me to pause,” District 8 Commissioner Barbara Sharief said. “If you’re not following proper procedures, you’re going to infect more people.”
District 7 Commissioner Tim Ryan said it was important for mayors to remember the county will set the guidelines, but it will be mostly up to the municipalities to enforce them.
District 2 Commissioner Mark Bogen said there needs to be a way for residents to notify authorities when a business or a person is not complying with the guidelines.
For more information about local restrictions and access to testing, call the Broward County COVID-19 Hotline at 954-357-9500 or email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.