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‘We want to work,’ Broward nightlife workers shout during protest

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Hector Perez has been unemployed for about six months. The DJ is among the nightlife workers who have been struggling financially since the coronavirus pandemic prompted officials to close clubs, lounges and bars in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Although the state allowed bars to reopen on Monday, the counties are not allowing it yet for fear of COVID-19 outbreaks. Entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys could reopen soon. Perez fears it will take too long for nightlife to light up again.

“I just had a baby a month ago," Perez said. "I might have to move out of state.”

Aside from DJs, the news also upset bartenders, servers, hostesses, performers, promoters, and bouncers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. A lot of them relied heavily on tips. Perez and Olga Mejia, a bartender, were among a small group of nightlife workers who met to protest on Friday night in Hollywood.

“I cannot make it anymore with my savings. They’re gone,” Mejia said. “I am behind on my rent. I am behind on my car payment.”

Alan Brownfeld said nightlife workers are desperate to get back to work as soon as possible. As the owner of Mickey’s Tiki Bar in Pompano Beach, he had to furlough all of his employees and he knows this is hurting families he cares about.

“I’m disgusted, infuriated,” Brownfeld said. "I’m frustrated.”

Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan during the pandemic will go into effect on Monday. Broward and Miami-Dade counties have yet to announce what businesses will be allowed to reopen. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez warned Friday the list will not include bars or nightclubs.

Brownsfeld’s plea to officials: “We’ll do the safe distancing, wear the mask, sanitizing, cleaning. That’s not a problem. Let us go back into business.”

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