MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The colorful, iconic, and crowded Ocean Drive is a shell of its former self. Soon, it will start to look different.
Beginning Saturday morning, the famed street will be closed to traffic over the weekend and until further notice.
City leaders said the closure is primarily to allow restaurants with outdoor seating to create distance by extending tables into the street, something that Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis mentioned in his Friday afternoon COVID-19 briefing.
“You’ve had some cities where they’ve closed parts of the street so that people can (have) more room outdoors and that’s just based off the science that this thing is not as transmissible outdoors as it is in an enclosed environment,” DeSantis said.
Jessica Francos of The Clevelander on Ocean Drive said she thinks it's a great idea for the restaurant business. "You can put out your tables on the street as well."
It’s welcome news to The Clevelander that, with the option of moving tables out onto the street, can serve more people.
“I think the guests will feel a lot better knowing the space is given to them and be more comfortable,” Francos said.
But not everyone is happy about the decision. David Wallack, the owner of Mango's Tropical Café, just down the street from The Clevelander, whose business has been shuttered for the last two months, tells Local 10 that he thinks traffic could mean fewer tourists and that's bad for business.
"Ocean Drive has never been a place where residents support it anything other than a special event," Wallack said.
One thing the café and restaurant workers and owners do agree on is that they are more than ready for customers and tourists to come back to their businesses.