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See what it’s like for a Miami Beach coronavirus code enforcement officer

Watch a code enforcement officer oversee the rules on Miami Beach
Watch a code enforcement officer oversee the rules on Miami Beach

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Along Lincoln Road you see hand sanitizers outside businesses and even hand-washing stations. There is a long list of requirements, and code compliance officers are out making sure they’re being followed.

Miami Beach code compliance officer Nehru Balgobin flagged that reusable menus were being handed out at Aura at Books & Books on Lincoln Road, a violation of the city’s requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“You guys can’t pass out those menus,” Balgobin told an employee.

“Right now we’re in the process of using disposable menus,” he explained. “Regular menus are not allowed at this time.”

Violations can mean a 24-hour shutdown for businesses to correct the problem.

Balgobin says most businesses are working hard to comply with the new guidelines.

The current list of rules is long — including sanitizer at a store’s entrance, distancing and directional markers once inside and signs instructing people to wear masks.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber has called for a special commission meeting Monday, tweeting that, given the surge in cases, the city needs to look into additional tools for enforcement.

“We’re 1 of the first in the U.S. to require masks indoors & in many places outdoors. But it is clear that there has not been terrific compliance with this rule and other measures,” Gelber wrote Friday.

Balgobin said one challenge for compliance officers is that business managers report that some customers don’t want to wear face coverings.

“If patrons don’t wear masks you guys have to enforce it when they’re coming in because they’re not allowed inside,” he told one business.

Like many people, one group visiting from Vero Beach shared mixed feelings about that mask requirement.

“Honestly it’s inconvenient, you know, but I mean, what are you going to do?” said Hayden Godwin. “Masks, they protect us, but it is very annoying.”

The reluctance to wear masks combined with the record numbers of new coronavirus cases means these code compliance patrols aren’t stopping any time soon.

“For the businesses, making sure we eliminate the spread of the virus [is critical], because the numbers are skyrocketing and it’s hard,” Balgobin said.

About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.