Miami and Miami Beach Restaurants to Reopen May 27

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Update: In a press conference held today, May 14th, in Doral, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis officially approved the 182-page plan from Mayor of Miami-Dade, Carlos Giménez, of the shops, restaurants, and offices to reopen more of the district. Additionally, Broward Mayor Dale Holness announced that Broward County’s shops and restaurants could open May 18, along with the Miami-Dade order. The beaches in Broward and Miami-Dade will remain closed “at least until May 26,” according to Holness.

Miami-Dade County’s Mayor Carlos Giménez today released a 182-page document entitled “The New Normal,” which contains guidelines for reopening stores, swimming pools, restaurants, hotels, parks, offices and more.

In an online press conference that afternoon, attended by mayors of many Miami-Dade communities, the leaders of the three most populous cities – Hialeah, Miami Beach and the city of Miami – announced their intention to reopen in two phases. In this scenario, most companies are allowed to open their doors on May 20th (as are museums). Restaurants will follow on May 27th.

Restaurants under the county jurisdiction are allowed to reopen on Monday, May 18.

Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said he would likely wait until early June. The city of Doral has not announced any opening dates. Bars will remain closed for the time being.

The rules set by Giménez, in violation of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ April 30th ordinance that restaurant dining rooms must operate at 25 percent of their maximum occupancy, provide for 50 percent of occupancy, provided the physical distance between the parties is at least six feet. Outdoor seating must be equidistant, and no restaurant may exceed the legal occupancy between indoor and outdoor seating.

Bar counters can work but must remain closed for seating.

In addition to seating, the ten pages of guidelines for restaurants cover everything from ventilation and sanitary facilities to personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene for employees and guests.

Among the requirements:

  • Restaurants must change and / or upgrade the restaurant’s HVAC filters as needed to maximize fresh air and increase outside airflow where possible.
  • Restaurants must place visible floor markings in all waiting areas, whether outside or inside, for a reasonable two-meter spacing for each party.
  • All tables must be limited to groups of four unless the party is from the same household unit. In this case the maximum number is six people.
  • All tables for guests from more than one household unit must be at least three feet apart from guests facing each other across the table.
  • The meters must be equipped with plexiglass barriers to provide additional protection for staff.
  • All employees must take their temperature before each shift and the restaurant must record each employee’s temperature as “passed” or “failed”. (A reading of 99.5 degrees or higher is a “failure,” and the employee is not allowed to work on their shift or go to the restaurant.) In addition, managers must ask each employee several health-related questions, including whether or not, before each shift they do this I’ve had contact with everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 since their last shift.
  • All restaurant employees are considered grocers and are required to wear masks, including hosts and servers.
  • All menus must be intended for single use and made available via a website or app.
  • All spices must be for single use.
  • Hand disinfectant wipes must be available at every table and at the host’s stand or entrance.
  • The host’s staff must keep a distance of two meters from the customers who accompany them to the table.

In addition, guests must wait for their tables in vehicles whenever possible, adhere to all social distancing protocols on the premises, and wear masks at all times when not at a table.

At a Miami Beach City Commission meeting that began earlier in the day, City Manager Jimmy Morales revealed details of the community’s reopening plan.

On May 20, retail stores, barber shops, hair salons and nail salons will be given the green light to reopen, as will museums. A total of 602 retail stores, 18 museums as well as 141 salons and hairdressers are allowed to reopen their doors.

On May 27, the municipality will allow its 855 restaurants and sidewalk cafes to reopen.

All companies must test their employees for COVID-19 before opening and once a month thereafter. The plan also includes temperature checks, cleanliness schedules, and monthly reports to be submitted to the city regarding test results.

Details of these and other requirements, including hours of operation, are yet to be provided, but all businesses must adhere to social distancing guidelines and operate at 25 percent capacity.

Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora intends to expand access to sidewalk seating and to close parking and driving lanes, as well as some streets, to expand restaurant seating beyond sidewalks.

Beaches and hotels should remain closed until the beginning of June.

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Laine Doss is the food and liquor editor for the Miami New Times. It was featured on Eat Street by Cooking Channel and in the Great Food Truck Race by Food Network. She won an Alternative Weekly Award for her contribution on what it’s like to wait for tables.

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