MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The sun is shining, and it feels beachy as Labor Day weekend arrives.
But before settling into the holiday state of mind, local mayors remind that there are a few rules to keep in mind.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Broward County Mayor Dale Holness held separate news conferences Friday to remind the public to take COVID-19 precautions during Labor Day weekend — to avoid a post-holiday surge of infections.
While beaches will remain open, Gimenez said people must continue to practice social distancing and not gather in groups larger than 10.
Gimenez said the county’s 10 p.m. curfew will remain in place throughout the weekend and fines will be given to those who are caught not wearing masks in public or not obeying orders put in place amid the pandemic.
The fine for individuals is $100 and $500 for businesses. Businesses that disobey ordinances, such as the 50 percent capacity limit inside restaurants, also face the risk of being temporarily shut down.
The mayor said authorities cannot control how many people gather inside a home since it is private property, but urged people not to gather in large groups inside their homes, as well.
“Above all, do not have house parties,” he said.
Gimenez said the U.S. Coast Guard will be working with police departments to monitor the waterways.
He urged residents to take advantage of free COVID-19 testing that is being offered at various locations, including Hard Rock Stadium, and also urged residents to take advantage of the county’s isolation program if needed.
Throughout the pandemic, the county has been providing hotel rooms to healthcare workers, first responders and the homeless, among others, who need to isolate for short periods of time.
The county has set up a help line to assist people interested in finding out if they are eligible for the program during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, residents may call 305-614-1716 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Holness also addressed the enforcement of COVID-19 regulations and Labor Day beach enforcement during his news conference, as well as discussed the county’s Rental Assistance Program and the proposed Police and Criminal Justice Review Board.
The mayor commended residents for following CDC guidelines as the county now has less than a 5% positivity rate.
Still, Holness said certain thresholds must be met before the county moves into Phase 2 of reopening, including staying below a 5% positivity rate for at least 14 days.
He said the county is close to reaching that goal, but is not quite there.
“We must find the balance between our health and our livelihood,” Holness said.
Holness said about 60 code enforcement officers will be working with authorities over the weekend to target certain areas and businesses where people may be disobeying orders put in place during the pandemic.
He also reminded residents that the county still has funds available for those who are behind on their rent for up to four months.
Those who are in need of rental assistance are asked to visit broward.org/cares or call 954-831-2380.
Funds will be paid directly to the landlord.
Holness also discussed the proposed Police and Criminal Justice Review Board, which he said will be on the county commission’s agenda on Sept. 10.
“We know that it’s a challenge we have in our society on how we deal with different people in different ways,” he said. “I am more likely to be stopped for not wearing a seat belt in Broward County as a Black man than someone who is White.”
Holness added that 65% of juveniles who are arrested in Broward County are Black, although they only represent 30 percent of the population.
He said nearly 50% of those who are in prison in Florida are Black, while Black people represent 16% of the population in the state.