Businesses required to equip staff with protective gear
Friday, April 3, 2020
Businesses in Miami Lakes that are allowed to be open during the coronavirus pandemic will be required to outfit employees in protective gear.
Town Manager Edward Pidermann issued an emergency order on Friday that takes effect Tuesday, April 7, at 5 p.m.
The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Staff at restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations in town will be required to wear masks or “face coverings” while serving customers, Pidermann said.
The coverings can be a bandana, handkerchief, homemade mask or scarf, according to the order, and must conceal the nose and mouth.
Miami Lakes had 16 cases of the virus, three more since Thursday, according to a state report on Friday morning.
“That is one half of one percent of our population, Pidermann said during a Facebook live chat Friday with Mayor Manny Cid. "It is a tremendously good figure compared to other areas of South Florida and in the country. Each and every one of us are the ones that can make the most difference,” PIdermann said. “Even though with increased testing we expect the numbers to inch up, each of us can do our part by social distancing and incredible hand washing.
“Make sure we maintain only small gatherings of people and we don’t congregate in large groups,” Pidermann said.
Hialeah, where many Miami Lakers have ties, had 365 cases.
In Florida, there were 9,585 cases, and 32 percent of those, or 3,029, were in Miami-Dade County. There were 25 deaths from the virus in the county, the state said.
Efrain Cardenas, manager of Cancun Grill Mexican restaurant in town, said he agreed with the new order.
“We support the town’s mandate,” Cardenas said. “For the past two weeks, our employees have been wearing masks and gloves.”
During a virtual council meeting held via the internet on Thursday night, Councilman Josh Dieguez proposed the new order following an experience he said he had while shopping at a drug store.
“I went to pick up some Tylenol and as I was waiting in line, the cashier was wearing a face mask, a gentleman, but it was worn under his nose,” Dieguez said. “It was not properly worn, and he was [serving] a lady in her 70s.”
Dieguez said doctors and scientists who are working to control the outbreak have indicated the fastest way to spread the virus is by coughing and sneezing when other people are in close proximity.
“The droplets coming out of people’s mouths, sometimes they linger in the air a little bit,” Dieguez said. “Having some protective covering may not be foolproof, but at least it’s something that would reduce the spread of the virus.”
Miami Lakes officials will work with health care specialists to distribute information on how the affected businesses should use gloves and masks, as well as ways to prevent cross-contamination.
That was a concern of Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez, who is a firefighter in Coral Gables.
Rodriguez said the idea that using gloves to stay sanitary is one of the biggest misconceptions during the pandemic, and as an example, said some people wear the same gloves to throw out trash and to wash dishes.
“The use of gloves gives you a false sense of security,” Rodriguez said. “They are [contaminating] everything they are touching.”
Rodriguez urged the town to consider having restaurants create standards for employees while they wear protective gear.
“It’s a complete resolution at the enforcement level and education level, educating the restaurants on the standards are important,” Rodriguez said.
Cid and Councilman Jefferey Rodriguez recused themselves from the discussion and cited a conflict of interest because they are owners of the Mayor’s Café in town.
Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano said she refrains from visiting some restaurants.
“I don’t feel that the people who are handing me my food, shake or coffee are wearing any protective equipment, for that matter,” she said.
Councilman Luis Collazo said he supports the mandate, which he said adds another layer of protection during the pandemic without being overly burdensome to small businesses in Miami Lakes.
Cid said during the Facebook live video that there was no evidence that coronavirus was transmitted in food.
Pidermann said Friday that in order to allow businesses to prepare, the order would go into effect next week.
“We know they (face coverings) are a hot commodity in our community,” Pidermann said. “We want to make sure we provide them with the correct information that they need to know and what the expectations are.”
He said police officers would be doing an “educational campaign” with businesses in the next few days.
Businesses that don’t comply with the order would commit a misdemeanor offense, subject to fines and jail time.
“…We do not foresee this extreme measure,” Pidermann said.