MIAMI – Miami-Dade County’s most populous cities — Miami, Miami Gardens, Hialeah and Miami Beach — officially began Phase 1 of their reopening plan on Wednesday.
Retail stores in the four cities can now reopen at a 50 percent capacity.
Nail and hair salons, along with barbershops, in all of the cities except Miami Gardens also reopened Wednesday and will have stricter restrictions.
All services are by appointment only, employees must wear a face mask and gloves at all times and the businesses may operate at a 25 percent capacity.
Restaurants, meanwhile, will remain closed at least for another week. The scheduled date for reopening at a 50 percent capacity in Miami, Miami Beach and Hialeah on May 27. Miami Gardens doesn’t plan to reopen its restaurants until June.
Excited to be back
Management at Midtown’s Jacques Janine Miami, a full-service hair and nail salon, have been busy preparing and cleaning their business. They’re now among those operating under a new normal by checking everyone’s temperature once they walk through the door and making sure customers sanitize their hands.
“It’s very important for everyone to be safe because we care about life,” Luciane Siqueira said.
Midtown Cuts in Miami is operating with three barber chairs instead of eight because of social distancing.
“We had to pay the rent here without making any money so it was really hard,” shop owner Jose Pichardo said.
Miami resident Derreck Tucker was there getting his hair cut.
“Its good to get back to normal a little bit,” he said.
In Little Havana, the famous Domino Park remains closed, but you can now go into shops.
However, those shop owners, like many in South Florida, remind that they rely heavily on tourism for their sales.
“I’m open. I’m ready. I’m excited,” D’Asis store manager Johnny Cardona said. “But what can we do?”
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is urging residents to review and follow the new rules and guidelines in order to avoid any further shutdowns.
“There’s two paths — there’s the path of responsibility and the path of irresponsibility,” Suarez said. “The path of responsibility leads us to Phase 2, the path of irresponsibility can quickly lead us back to reverse this Phase 1 opening.”
With the reopening of some businesses, including retail stores, barbershops and hair and nail salons, the Miami Parking Authority is offering one hour of free street parking per day as part of its “Welcome Back, Miami” campaign.
“Since the global pandemic was announced, it has been the Authority’s utmost priority to protect the health and safety of the staff and customers alike,” said Alejandra Argudin, chief executive officer. “As Miami gradually re-opens, we continue to support our community, this time, by safely welcoming our existing and new customers back with one hour of free, on-street parking per day when they use the PayByPhone app.”
Miami residents may also obtain a discounted parking rate when they use PayByPhone. Residents can confirm their eligibility by visiting www.miamiparking.com/pbpdiscount or by calling the Customer Service department at (305) 373-6789 ext. 202.
Reopening with rules
Miami Gardens does not yet have a date for when personal grooming businesses may reopen. Its retailers that may open now include clothing stores, furniture stores, shoe stores and other retail outlets. Other businesses that provide services such as financial services, insurance, cleaning services and other personal care services can also reopen.
In Miami, Bayfront Park and Maurice A. Ferre Park also reopened Wednesday with some rules in place, including:
• Wear a face covering at all times, unless engaged in rigorous activity (running, jogging) or are under 2 years old.
• Maintain a 6-foot distance (two arms’ lengths) from anyone outside of your immediate household.
• Park open space is available for leisure use only: walking, running, biking and getting fresh air.
• Keep visit to no more than a 1 to 2 hour period.
• All dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and owners must curb their dogs.
• When deemed necessary, anyone over age 55 will be given priority park use from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
No parties, barbecues or gatherings of any kind involving more than 10 people are permitted at the parks for the time being.
‘We don’t want to get this wrong’
In Miami Beach, the slow reopening has been mainly about keeping scores of tourists from flocking to the area, especially ahead of Memorial Day weekend.
“My entire life in public space management has been getting as many people as possible into a space so they can stand next to each other and be one with each other. Now we have to learn the new lesson, and the new lesson is you got to keep your social distance,” Timothy Schmand, of the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District, said.
Local 10 News reporter Glenna Milberg was on Lincoln Road Wednesday as businesses reopened their doors to customers. It was a slow start to the day, but shop employees were hopeful things would pick up.
“We don’t want to get this wrong. We want to get this right. We want to reopen businesses slowly and deliberately and in a way that not only makes people feel safe, but makes sure that they actually are safe,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said.
Added Schmand: “We need to create the destination where people say, ‘I need to go back, see what they’ve done there.'"
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Eileen Higgins tweeted Wednesday that the county has approved the closure of all city/county streets needed to provide space for social distancing and extra outside seating at Miami Beach restaurants.
Teamwork makes the dream work. Collaborating with @MiamiBeachNews & @MyFDOT_Miami to safely provide extra space for tables & social distancing pedestrians when Miami Beach's restaurants open next Wed. I am very grateful to the FDOT team committing to turn around approvals quickly pic.twitter.com/NL7NDVksTt— Commissioner Eileen Higgins (@CommishEileen) May 20, 2020
This includes the closure of Washington Avenue from Seventh to 16th streets, and Lincoln Road from West Avenue to Alton Road.
According to one of her posts, the city will close parking lanes if restaurants submit a permit request.
The cities chose to open two days after the county in order to allow business owners a chance to get familiarized with the rules and the new normal.
Beaches in Miami-Dade are expected to remain closed for at least another week and a half.