MIAMI – With coronavirus cases surging, there is no flirting at the bar, nor is there dancing at a nightclub with a new beau. The pandemic’s new normal is redefining Friday night fun for young people in South Florida.
Code enforcement officers in Miami Beach, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the cities where most of the socializing took place before the pandemic, are out issuing warnings.
In Fort Lauderdale, Pizza Italia got more than a warning. Officers ordered them to close and issued a $15,000 fine. Tommy Bahama’s Marlin Bar was also closed.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said community transmission is being driven “by that 18 to 35-year-old group” and he ordered state’s bars closed on Friday.
In Calle Ocho, a mask was not a challenge for a Conga man and his keyboard. There was a couple out on a romantic date night that did not include much distancing. And there were plenty of others who were not aware of the new face mask mandate or just didn’t care.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez warned the civil fines start at $50 and violators could face jail time. Jackson Health Systems President and CEO, Carlos Migoya, said there is a spike in cases driven by people in their 40s or younger.
Little Havana, Brownsville and Allapattah are all hot zones in Miami-Dade County. Officers have shut down six businesses and issued about 4,000 citations, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.
In Fort Lauderdale, code enforcement officers worked on Friday night.
“We will be looking also to ensure that no one is past the 50% maximum occupancy in the building,” said Porshia Williams, the city’s code compliance manager.
Mayor Dean Trantalis also walked down Las Olas and visited several businesses that code enforcement officers had already cited or checked for complaints.
Although there appeared to be a large crowd at Yolo Restaurant, officers determined the business was complying with capacity limits.
“There is a lot of people here,” said Bob Cerron, a Fort Lauderdale resident. “I mean this is a big place.”
Tim Patrillo, of Yolo Restaurant, said it is always a challenge to make sure everyone is wearing a face mask and social distancing because you have so many people coming in and out.
“I feel like guests are starting to be a lot more responsible as well,” Patrillo said.