Miami increases penalties for not wearing a face mask

Coronavirus cases have cities and county setting stiffer rules

Miami announced increased fines Wednesday, and Miami Beach will start fining people $50 on Thursday. Local business owners implore people to follow the rules so they can remain open.

MIAMI – An emerging hospital capacity crunch is prompting cities in Miami-Dade County to release new counter-measures to stop the spread of COVID-19

Miami on Wednesday boosted the penalties for people caught not wearing facial coverings in public.

The first and second offenses are a $100 fine, the third is $500 and any additional offenses comes with an arrest/notice to appear.

The tiered system builds on what had previously been a $50 fine for not wearing a mask in the city.

Miami Beach is also issuing $50 fines for in-public mask mandate violations, starting Thursday.

In Miami-Dade County, the civil penalties are $100 for individuals and $500 for businesses caught not following the “new normal” guidelines that include social distancing, capacity limitations and the mask mandate.

“The hospitals are telling us that we have the capacity in this moment to not shut down the economy as long as you do this — as long as you enforce masks,” Miami Commissioner Ken Russell said.

Local 10 News caught up with Russell on Fuller Street in Coconut Grove, which has been closed to cars.

“This is the first full closure of a street we have in the city,” Russell said.

It’s part of a larger city plan in development aimed to help restaurants like Barracuda Taphouse & Grill have the space to offer outdoor dining as they face the county’s indoor dining ban.

“At this point its survival,” said Barracuda owner Lee Kessler. “That’s the difference between me staying open or not.”

In other measures, both Miami and Miami Beach will close their city-run summer camps on Monday

And Miami Beach last week instituted an 8 p.m. curfew for its entertainment district in South Beach, two hours earlier than the 10 p.m. countywide curfew.

Plus, with household transmission continuing to be a driver of COVID-19 cases, the City of Miami is looking to follow the order out of Broward County that limits gatherings at home to 10 people. Mayor Francis Suárez said Tuesday that the city is looking at that legally.

About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."