Miami-Dade beaches reopen Monday. Can we do it in a way that’s safe?

Leaders urge residents to protect each other and protect the environment when returning to the sand

As we return to the beach, this is our chance to get it right
As we return to the beach, this is our chance to get it right

MIAMI – It’s happening Monday. Closed for 10 weeks, Miami-Dade beaches will finally begin to reopen.

“We’re the first to close our beaches and I think we’ll be last to open them. But we would be foolish if we weren’t concerned and try to overprepare,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

Gelber is cautiously optimistic and has been working with the county mayor and leaders of other coastal cities to execute the best plan to bring us back to the sand and surf.

“We want to make sure that as we open, we do it in a safe way,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

That means no mask, no entry — though you won’t have to wear it if you’re swimming, surfing or jogging. You must maintain a safe social distance of 6 feet from people not in your household. And groups of more than 10 will be asked to leave.

“We don’t want to see these same images we’ve seen from other parts of the country,” Gimenez said. “We also want to portray an image to the rest of the country and the world that we can do things the right way in Miami-Dade County.”

There will be an increased police presence, and ambassadors enforcing the new rules. And if we don’t play by them, we all lose.

“If it looks like we’re unable to do it safely, we’ll close it down,” Gelber said.

Seth Bloomgarden, chairman of the Miami Surfrider Foundation, an environmental watchdog group, has been lobbying Miami Beach to reopen not just safely, but more consciously. The data is clear: During our time in isolation, our beaches have rebounded and are the healthiest they’ve been in decades.

Bloomgarden implores people not to bring single-use plastics with them to the beach, and the Surfrider Foundation has asked Miami Beach to not only enforce social distancing, but also the current litter laws.

Our beaches can always look like this if we take better care of them.

“We have observed clean beaches, and a return to a more natural and sustainable state. Let’s keep it that way,” Bloomgarden said. “We can do this. We’ve been given a chance to get it right.”

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