Some South Florida establishments allowing large crowds with limited social distancing, mask wearing

People continue crowding into bars and restaurants, with little mask wearing or social distancing
People continue crowding into bars and restaurants, with little mask wearing or social distancing

MIAMI – Coronavirus cases in South Florida continue to spike, and yet social media is full of videos and photos of local bars and establishments packed full of people, many not wearing masks in clear violation of safety rules and guidelines.

One video posted over the weekend is from The Wharf Miami, an outdoor bar and entertainment venue and it appears to show crowds of people gathered closely together, many of whom were unmasked as they consumed their drinks.

“It really is not as bad as the video looks,” said Emi Guerra, co-owner of The Wharf Miami. “People do wear masks. If you look at that video, specifically the people who don’t wear masks all had a drink in their hand.”

Guerra says The Wharf just reopened in mid-November after initially closing due to COVID-19. They require masks and encourage people to wait six feet apart.

“We operate at a 50% capacity even though we’re allowed to operate at 100% capacity,” Guerra said. “50% capacity for us is 500 people.”

The space is outdoors and it’s big. They offer assigned seating, but Guerra said the challenge is that people want to be up and socializing.

Local leaders are doing what they can to stem the spread of the virus.

“We don’t want to be draconian; we don’t want to be excessive,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “We are trying to prevent super spreaders, that’s what we’re trying to prevent.”

Guerra contests that the oversight is full of mixed messages and ultimately isn’t helping.

“Some of the guidelines just don’t work,” he said. “You have the governor who says we can open with no restrictions or guidelines, and then you have the county that says one thing and the city that says something else.”


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