Broward working on new emergency order to slow coronavirus spread

Mayor says county may take 'incremental' steps until numbers improve

Broward leaders working on new COVID-19 emergency order
Broward leaders working on new COVID-19 emergency order

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County leaders are drafting an emergency order to further deal with the rising COVID-19 numbers.

What it will call for remains to be seen.

It may not include closures, like was seen in Miami-Dade County. It could be stronger fines or additional distancing measures.

“What we’ll probably do is incremental,” Broward Mayor Dale Holness said. “And not go all the way now [with closures] and see what happens over a short period of time.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, officials are still crunching the numbers. A day earlier, Holness met with the city mayors within the county to discuss options.

The health department confirmed 739 more cases in Broward on Tuesday morning, bringing the county’s total to 22,595 since the start of the pandemic. Broward’s death toll from the coronavirus is now at 418 after four more were confirmed over the past day.

“We must do something because it’s not sustainable where we are,” Holness said. “The increases are going to increase unless we do something.”

Word of a possible rollback is frustrating and scary for Brent Lahaye, who owns Noodles Panini on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard.

“What else can we do? We’re doing everything that we’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “You got to suck it up. ... You’ve got to cut the staff. You’ve got to do specials.”

Lahaye proposed one other idea:

“If people aren’t complying [with the existing orders], give them a bigger fine,” he said. “Don’t take it out on all of us.”

One group of bar and restaurant owners are pushing back, threatening a new lawsuit against the county and the state.

Attorney Alex Arreaza claims the state hasn’t provided hard evidence to keep bars closed in the light of the pandemic.

“These guys are being shut down by the government without due process, on a suspicion,” he said, adding that these business owners deserve an opportunity to reopen and follow the rules.

About the Authors: