Midnight curfew starting Saturday in Miami could mean citations, fines for late-nighters

Miami will enforce a midnight curfew on businesses starting Saturday to try to curb COVID-19
Miami will enforce a midnight curfew on businesses starting Saturday to try to curb COVID-19

MIAMI, Fla. – Police will be out enforcing the citywide curfew in Miami this weekend. On Friday night, Miami police will start giving out warnings and making businesses aware that they are going to be enforcing the curfew again. Those who do not want to comply, the business will be shut down for 24 hours and issued a $500 fine.

Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said that the idea is to keep people safe and that it isn’t meant to punish people.

“Essentially Saturday is probably when we’ll really go out and start enforcing the curfew, which will be from midnight to 6 a.m.,” Colina said.

Colina said the protocol will be to first give the businesses a chance to close voluntarily.

“If not . . . if we have to shut them down, of course, we will. (It) is a $500 fine and a hard closure for 24 hours. Obviously, that’s not what we want to do,” Colina said.

After largely ignoring the curfew, city leaders voted Thursday to begin enforcing it again after health officials pleaded in desperation to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“At the same time, I also have to look at the business community and the devastation that this pandemic has caused to the business community, so as an elected official, I have to weigh both,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Bar owners said they can’t keep up with the changing policies from state and local jurisdictions. And while they understand the benefits of early closure, they said it is their employees who will suffer.

“The thousands of nightlife employees, the vendors, the small businesses that maintain businesses like ours, it’s really a terrible trickle-down effect,” said Emi Guerra, co-owner of The Wharf Miami. He said the crackdowns hurt small businesses and he doesn’t think it helps curb determined partiers.

“It’s going to drive a lot of the people who are going out right now and they’re going to go to underground parties, they’re going to go to big house parties and they’re going to go to raves out in Homestead,” Guerra said.

Business owners told Local 10 that the enforcement is unfairly targeting the nightlife community rather than individuals.

Local 10 asked the police chief who said his officers will be approaching individuals and they can issue them civil citations and a fine of $100. Enforcing the fines has been a tricky issue, but the chief said they still will enforce the curfew.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ suspension of fines and penalties order has been limiting the city’s ability to collect on violations over coronavirus safety measures since late September.

“What’s been tragic and sad about this pandemic is there’s an inverse correlation. Unfortunately, the more that you close you hurt businesses, but you probably save lives,” said Suarez.

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