No curfew as Miami-Dade waits for appeal decision after strip club wins lawsuit

Expedited request for decision by appeals court could decide fate of COVID curfew

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Miami-Dade County’s mayor responded to a win by a Miami Gardens’ strip club who filed a civil lawsuit against the county over its COVID-19 curfew.

The county has filed an appeal and its attorney has requested an expedited decision that, if is in the county’s favor, could put the curfew back in place. But for now, there are no curfews in Miami-Dade County, including bars that can now stay open in Miami Beach.

The county cannot enforce the curfew at businesses until resolution of the appeal, according to a statement from the office of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

“From a practical matter, the curfew is unenforceable until the appeal is settled by the courts. However, we can and will continue to enforce the County’s orders on facial coverings, distancing and important rules governing public health protocols for businesses,” the statement read.

On Friday, Oct. 16, Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Beatrice Butchko ruled in favor of Tootsie’s strip club in Miami Gardens when she issued a temporary injunction barring Miami-Dade County from enforcing the countywide curfew.

A spokesperson from the adult entertainment club said: “Tootsie’s Cabaret confirms it won a temporary restraining order against Miami-Dade County’s curfew (12 AM to 6 AM). The only thing Tootsie’s sought was the ability to operate its normal hours (12 PM to 6 AM), which it now can do, so its employees and entertainers can make a living. Tootsie’s continues to take seriously Covid-related safety measures and urges others to do so. These measures include temperature check screening of guests, employees, and entertainers; requiring them to wear masks; social distancing; and limiting occupancy to 50%.”

Butchko wrote in her ruling that the county’s four-month-old curfew order conflicts with a Sept. 25 order by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Miami-Dade County issued Amendment 3 to Emergency Order 27-20 on Oct. 12 that instituted a curfew from midnight through 6 a.m. “All restaurants and food service establishments shall close for on-premises dining between the start of the curfew at 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. These establishments may still continue to operate their kitchens after 12 a.m. strictly for the purpose of providing delivery and drive-through services only,” the order read.

The news of the injunction comes after Florida has been experiencing a rise in cases. Saturday’s coronavirus numbers were the largest single day increase since late August.

Miami-Dade County has the second largest case number in the United States behind Los Angeles County, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Gimenez said he wanted to “reiterate that if everyone wears masks in public places and stays away from large social gatherings, which can trigger dangerous super-spreader events, we can continue to keep the COVID-19 positivity rate low and not overwhelm our hospitals with very sick patients . . .I am asking our residents and business owners to keep your guard up and diligently follow the County’s safety rules to protect our community during this pandemic. Please, continue to do your part to save lives.”

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