MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A socially distanced South Beach is making for a very different-looking Labor Day.
While there has been some rainy and cloudy weather, there have been noticeably fewer people on Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale Beach than a normal Labor Day holiday.
“I did think there was going to be a lot more crowded,” said Helen Llanos, who lives in Kendall.
Larger crowds were seen gathering at South Florida beaches earlier in the weekend. Local leaders have reminded residents and visitors to follow social distancing guidelines and other rules intended to slow the spread of coronavirus.
“I did think there would be more people,” said Jimmy Moses, who was visiting Miami Beach from Los Angeles.
He didn’t know Miami-Dade County was going to have a nightly 10 p.m. curfew in place.
“I wouldn’t have came if I had known they were shutting everything down at 10 o’clock,” he said. “I like to party.”
Those smaller crowds haven’t been the best news for coastal businesses. The beaches across South Florida have remained open, however.
Heading into the holiday, elected leaders were concerned that some people may start to let their guard down. So they’ve stepped up their enforcement efforts.
“Everyone is well aware of what happened after Memorial Day [with an increase in COVID-19 cases],” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University. “So I’m really hoping that people will keep all that in mind so that we don’t see a huge surge two weeks from Labor Day.”
Those enforcement efforts were also out in force in Broward County, where officers could be seen Monday on Fort Lauderdale Beach on motorcycles, in patrol cars, and even on horseback.
They say COVID-19 does complicate things a bit, but that there haven’t been any major issues yet this weekend. They also say they’re trying to give people warnings and remind people how they should be acting, instead of just writing citations.
“We really we haven’t had any issues, and we’re happy to report that,” said Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. “We’re happy to see everyone enjoying themselves in a safe and pleasant manner.”
While masks aren’t required outside if people are far enough apart, social distancing guidelines are still being enforced, and Greenlaw says people seem to be getting the message.
“We have groups of individuals that are here from the same household or are with the same group and they’re being mindful of those other groups that are nearby,” she said.
Dozens of code compliance officers are also roaming the streets looking to make sure businesses are complying.
“This weekend surprisingly we haven’t come across a lot of violations,” said Manny Garcia, senior officer for Fort Lauderdale Code Compliance. “So far it’s been very calm when it comes to public establishments like restaurants and stuff like that.”