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Coronavirus: Broward threatens shutdowns, big fines for businesses breaking safety rules

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County is joining the rest of the state in getting stern with businesses that violate emergency orders set to prevent spreading coronavirus.

The county announced a new order, effective Friday, that increases penalties to non-compliant businesses. Repeat violators could be fined up to $15,000.

The rules in Broward’s new order state:

  • Establishments cited for operating in violation of any County Emergency Order shall immediately close for a minimum 24-hour period.
  • They may reopen after 24 hours, provided they 1) conduct a thorough review of applicable Emergency Orders and take all necessary measures to bring the establishment into compliance and 2) submit and receive notice of acceptance of attestation, under penalty of perjury by the owner, general manager, or chief executive officer of the establishment, emailed to the County at Reopening@Broward.org.
  • Once the attestation is received and accepted, the establishment will be inspected by local code enforcement or law enforcement authorities, within five calendar days after reopening, to confirm that the violation has been corrected.
  • Repeat violations will be presumed to be knowing violations and will be subject to stricter penalties, including a fine of up to $15,000.

The guidelines businesses have been mandated to follow since reopening include sanitization, social distancing, capacity and facial-covering requirements.

Mayors of Broward’s cities joined for a news conference to stress that they will not tolerate people or businesses breaking the rules.

“We know that social distancing and wearing a face covering — a mask — works,” Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said. “I want to say to everyone – we must do everything to protect ourselves and each other so we can stay healthy and somehow maintain the economy.”

Dozens of businesses in the Broward have already received warnings or citations. The county says it has received over 800 complaints in the past 10 days.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to comply with CDC guidelines and Emergency Orders, including those related to facial coverings and social distancing,” County Administrator Bertha Henry said in a news release. “We cannot let our guard down if we hope to stop the spread of the virus and avoid the devastating economic impacts of a reopening rollback.”

Broward’s announcement comes a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to strip licenses from businesses in the state that flagrantly violate emergency orders. Miami-Dade County has also been aggressively checking business compliance.

Broward saw an increase of 473 COVID-19 cases over the past day as the state reported a record 5,511 new cases.

“Think about your neighbor,” Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam said, holding up a face mask. “It’s so important for us to wear these simple little fabrics. It can save a life.”

Some cities are taking extra precautions, including Hallandale Beach, which will now require people in condominiums, apartments and multifamily homes to wear face coverings whenever they’re in common areas.

If you see a business not complying with Broward’s rules, the county says you can report them by calling 311 or 954-831-4000, or by visiting MyBroward.Broward.org, selecting “Request for Service,” enter the location of the violation, and selecting “COVID-19 Business Complaints” as the type of issue. Reports can be made anonymously.


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