If you were confused last Friday, you were not alone. With little warning or apparent communication to the rest of the state, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a vague and sweeping executive order to bring all of Florida into phase three opening protocol. This meant restaurants, bars, and nightclubs could all open.
It was initially unclear if DeSantis’ order would affect Miami-Dade County. We had only recently gotten ourselves back into phase two, which allowed limited indoor dining. Bars and nightclubs were still closed and looked to be a long way from reopening.
The short answer is, yes, the order does affect Miami-Dade County. And while there is still a lot of uncertainty around this order and how it will be enforced in South Florida, we do know (slightly) more than we knew on Friday. Let’s discuss.
So, can bars and clubs open in Miami?
Yes, they can (strip clubs too, by the way). Miami is attempting to place some limitations on the capacity of these establishments.
Wait. Clubs can open? As in nightclubs?
Yup. The county’s emergency order states, “Clubs that include dancing must require that masks be worn on the dance floor. Eating and drinking will be allowed only at tables.” We haven’t seen any of the big Miami clubs say anything about opening yet, but it does seem like only a matter of time.
Are these places still capped at 50% capacity?
Not exactly. It’s confusing, but let’s break it down. So, restaurants can operate at 100% capacity as long as all tables are six feet apart. So a big restaurant could legally exceed 50% capacity but smaller restaurants will just have to work with the space they’ve got. Here’s where it gets weird, though. If a bar or restaurant can’t reach 50% capacity with tables spaced six-feet apart, they are then allowed to ignore the six-foot rule and put tables as close as they want until they reach 50% capacity.
It’s unclear right now if bars and clubs can also exceed 50% capacity if space allows. A county spokesperson was unable to clarify this point for us, but she did say that the county attorney’s office is still reviewing the governor’s order, so it’s worth noting that these guidelines could change. We’ll update this piece with any significant changes.
Do we still have a curfew?
Yes we do. It’s at 11pm right now, and the county order says, “Violators will be cited with a second-degree criminal misdemeanor that sets a maximum $500 fine and/or 180 days in jail.” We’ll make sure to update this when the curfew changes.
How many people can sit at a table?
“No more than six people per table or up to ten from the same household,” according to Miami-Dade.
Do I have to wear a mask?
Yes. The county’s stance is that masks are to be worn at all times when not seated at a table. Though it looks like it will be up to individual businesses to really be the enforcers, because the governor’s order also prevents Miami-Dade County from actually issuing fines to those not wearing masks. To be clear, we absolutely endorse wearing a mask whenever you are around people, especially while at restaurants communicating with staff.
Wait - if the DeSantis order suspends all fines and fees related to Covid, how can Miami-Dade County enforce any of this?
While the county is unable to collect fines on individual citations, they can apparently still penalize and shut down businesses that don't comply with their regulations.
Does Miami-Dade County have any say in this?
The executive order does allow the county to propose some guidelines and restrictions, but they have to be approved by the state. It looks like Miami-Dade is still in this process.
Why, exactly, is this happening?
Here’s a guess from Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber via the Herald: “This is a political decision, clearly not inspired by an instinct to protect our residents or our economy. Preventing us from enforcing rules requiring mask usage is senseless and will only get more people sick.”
Well. That’s a lot to digest.
Yup. We understand socializing in any form still feels strange and poses risks too. We’re also aware that openings on a scale smaller than this haven’t gone well in Miami before. We are going to keep trying to give you the restaurant news you follow us for, and keep you informed the best we can with plenty of takeout, delivery, and outdoor options. If you have any more questions or thoughts, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.