Post-coronavirus reopening on hold, non-essential businesses closed
Thursday, May 14, 2020
The stalemate between protecting public health during the coronavirus outbreak and allowing commerce to resume is entering its third month in South Florida.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has set May 18 as a possible target date to reopen some businesses if COVID-19-related hospitalizations decline.
He did not say what type of businesses would be allowed to unlock their doors to serve the public; beaches would remain closed.
Because non-essential businesses such as salons, gyms and boutiques in
Miami Lakes were suffering financially, the town council on April 30 urged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Gimenez and the county commission to allow them to reopen as soon as possible.
DeSantis had ordered most businesses to reopen, following safety guidelines, on May 4.
But his order excluded enterprises in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.
Miami Lakes sought to be the exception, but Miami-Dade County has the highest number of COVID-19 patients in the state.
“Businesses are on life support,” said Eddie Blanco, a Realtor and chair of the town’s
Economic Development Committee said during the April 30 municipal meeting.
Blanco is also a member of a Gimenez task force studying ways in which life could return to normal.
Non-essential firms that have remained closed can’t afford to pay rent and taxes, Blanco said.
Cases of COVID-19 in Miami Lakes reached 43 on April 23 and did not increase for eight days, prompting the town to say in its resolution that it had “effectively flattened the curve” or kept the virus from spreading.
Hialeah, whose residents have strong ties to Miami Lakes, had the second highest number of cases after unincorporated areas, with 1,475 on April 30.
As for ensuring that the virus would not spread in town with renewed commercial activities, Blanco offered proposals with safety in mind.
“The businesses have different challenges and each have their own set of guidelines [on how they would keep customers safe],” Blanco said.
Spas, nail and hair salons and barbershops offered to operate by appointment only and allow one or two patrons in at a time while other customers wait outside. Employees would wear masks and gloves.
“These are our businesses and our town, and they should be allowed to reopen with precautions,” Blanco said then.
Councilman Jeffrey Rodriguez agreed.
“We stand with our businesses to help get them up and running again as soon as possible,” he said.
Dieguez said the shutdown may affect the town’s economy.
“If they can’t pay their government taxes and fees, we may see a hit in our budget,” he said.
Though Gimenez reopened parks, golf courses and marinas in April and limited activities to maintain social distancing, he stood firm against
Miami Lakes’ plea.
“Cities cannot open their businesses until the county allows them to do so,” Gimenez said on May 1.
“We aren’t reopening businesses until we go through our process of working with our medical experts that we have on our team and the Florida Department of Health,” he said then.
On May 1, there were 101 COVID-19-related deaths and 12,389 cases in Miami-Dade. On May 10, there were 14,007 cases, and 176 deaths.
Miami Lakes had 45 cases that day; there were 1,681 cases reported in Hialeah, according to state reports.