Restaurant where Miami mayor dined one of 3 shut down for breaking COVID-19 rules

Design District's Swan deemed non compliant, along with restaurants in Wynwood and Little Havana

Swan in the Miami Design District was shut down for COVID violations. (WPLG)

MIAMI, Fla. – A photo of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at a Miami Design District restaurant that was reportedly overcrowded and not following social distancing guidelines made the rounds on social media this past week.

On Saturday, Miami-Dade County’s Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a press release that the restaurant, Swan, and two others have been shut down by the city of Miami police for violating re-opening rules.

The photo that caused the stir of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, center, at Swan in the Design District. The restaurant was shut down Friday for non compliance with ordinances as it pertains to social distancing. (WPLG)

The photo of Suarez at Swan was posted on Instagram, which, along with Astra in Wynwood and El Secreto Bar and Grill in Little Havana were cited after reports that the county’s “New Normal” rules were not being followed.

The restaurants were issued violations for not following Miami-Dade Emergency Order 23-20. Owners of non-compliant businesses may face a $500 fine and up to 180 days in jail.

On Monday, Suarez held a press conference with Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber to reiterate the importance of social distancing and of mask compliance, but had been at the crowded restaurant just a few days later and in a photo not wearing a mask.

Mayors of Miami, Miami Beach hold news conference outside Miami City Hall

WATCH LIVE: Mayors of Miami, Miami Beach hold news conference outside Miami City Hall

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Monday, June 15, 2020

Suarez was not available for an interview Saturday because of commitments with his family, said Soledad Cedro, associated communications director for the Office of the Mayor. Cedro sent a response on his behalf.

“The Mayor had dinner at a table with three other individuals in compliance with city and county policy. He is doing everything he can to responsibly support local small businesses. While the Mayor is not a law enforcement officer, he strongly encourages all businesses and citizens to abide by the policies that have been established to protect our residents.”

In order to reopen, businesses that have been closed due to noncompliance must take 24 hours to review the New Normal Guidelines and also take all necessary measures to meet the requirements.

These businesses must also submit an affidavit demonstrating that they have completed the necessary steps to reopen.

A statement sent to Local 10 from Swan on Friday at 1:30 p.m. read:

“There has been tremendous anticipation around the reopening of the restaurant. We make sure to exceed all governmental guidelines and practices to ensure a safe and clean environment. On a specific occasion this weekend our overflow dining room exceeded the acceptable spacing and we took action and shut it down immediately. Swan remains the ideal socially distance venue with over 60% outdoor seating allowing our restaurant guests ample space and open air dining. "

On Friday, MDPD conducted 10,220 business checks, mostly in unincorporated areas of the county, and warned 45 business of non-compliance for mostly lesser violations, according to Miami-Dade County’s Office of the Mayor.

During Miami-Dade County’s “Yellow Phase” restaurants can operate at 50 percent capacity indoors and employees and patrons must follow all rules, including wearing masks at certain times and always social distancing.

About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local