WILTON MANORS, Fla. – Broward County’s new emergency order takes effect just after midnight. While it adds restrictions for restaurants and vacation rentals, some medical experts question if it goes far enough to prevent the rising coronavirus numbers in the county.
“I was very disappointed because they clearly aren’t taking into consideration their current rate of positivity and the risks that exist in indoor spaces,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease specialist at Florida International University.
“We are much worse today than we were when we put the other lockdown in place, the other much more severe lockdown,” she added.
Broward’s new rules include reducing the number of people allowed to eat out together to 6, forcing restaurants to close at 10 p.m. and limiting the number of people allowed in vacation rentals. They also call for longer shutdowns when businesses repeatedly violate the safety guidelines.
Broward County reached a new high with 22.7% of tests processed Wednesday coming back positive, according to the state’s health department. (Not including retests of infected patients.)
Marty said that positivity rate indicates that indoor restaurant dining should be stopped entirely, as Miami-Dade County ordered this week.
“We’re only going to have more misery, more death and more economic problems in the long run if we don’t handle it properly,” she said. “This is our second chance to get it right.”
Broward Mayor Dale Holness himself acknowledged that his county’s order may need to get stricter if the numbers continue in the same direction.
“What we did yesterday may not be enough, I have to be honest,” Holness said Thursday. “But we have to find balance.”
Holness said the county wanted to put in new restrictions while also acknowledging that they are looking out for the economic needs of local businesses.
But he says they won’t hesitate to crack down further if they need to.
“We’re going to have to watch the data, and if we see a spike like we see from yesterday’s results continuing, then we might have to be more drastic in the actions that we take,” Holness said.
As for the other part of Broward’s order, vacation rental owner Phil Kaiser says limiting the number of people in rentals is a positive step.
“I’m happy about the new rules. I think it’s very responsible,” said Kaiser, who owns a rental in Wilton Manors. “There’s a lot of people not taking this seriously, and to cut down the amount of people [in the rentals] and make people more aware of what’s necessary is great for the whole community.”
See the full details of Broward’s order below: