FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County leaders expect 940,000 visitors to come to the area over a two-week holiday stretch that ends Jan. 4.
“We know that there will be a surge after the holidays,” Broward County Mayor Steven Geller said.
The county will impose a curfew for the next two weeks. On Wednesday, the county administrator signed the order. Geller said the action is to preserve hospital bed capacity amid a COVID-19 surge but there are others who go up against that reasoning, saying that there is no data to prove the curfew effective.
“We are very concerned about people going out to bars and restaurants and even more concerned about people having house parties,” Geller said.
The curfew will last from Christmas, Dec. 25, though Wednesday, Jan 4 from midnight to 5 a.m. However, on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the curfew will start at 1 a.m. and continue until 5 a.m.
Bradford Cohen, the lead attorney in an ongoing lawsuit against county restrictions over when bars and restaurants can serve alcohol, believes the holiday curfew is not well thought out.
“It’s so arbitrary. The time that they’re setting has no scientific data that this is a time that COVID goes up,” Cohen said.
“No one wants COVID to spread. Everybody that’s involved wants smart ordinances that can be enforced that have some teeth to them.”
Cohen said said the curfew is not enforceable. A federal judge last week temporarily blocked the county’s alcohol service restrictions and Cohen said that ruling is what sparked county leaders to put out a curfew instead.
“Telling someone that they can’t have a pizza at 12:30 at night as opposed to 11:30 at night, it’s not only not unreasonable, it’s not attributed to any kind of scientific data,” Cohen said.
As far as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order preventing local governments from collecting fines, the mayor said the order won’t last forever.
“We can collect on the fines as soon as the order is done and we will collect on the fines,” Geller said.
Commenting on the assertion that the response to the curfew was to the judges ruling that temporarily banned the order on bars serving alcohol after a certain hour, Geller disagreed. He said that the curfew is meant as a way to help avert a spike in coronavirus cases.