Patrons of restaurants, bars, and brewery taprooms in Miami-Dade County can now dine and sip until midnight.
As of this past Monday, County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez pushed the countywide curfew to the stroke of midnight, even as he reiterated the importance of public adherence to mask-wearing and social-distancing rules.
Giménez said the decision came after his promise to evaluate the county's COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization rates for stability following Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' surprise opening of the state on September 26.
"Although there have been some daily testing numbers above our goal, overall, the 14-day average has been below our 5 percent target, and hospitalizations have not spiked," the mayor asserted.
Stephanie Vitori says her restaurant, Cheeseburger Baby (1505 Washington Ave, Miami Beach), typically sees its heaviest business traffic after hours. The small diner, which specializes in burgers and beer, caters to after-club crowds on South Beach looking to load up on calories before heading home.
Throughout the pandemic, Vitori has continued to adapt her business model. The restaurant is now open for takeout and delivery only, with a few outdoor picnic-style tables for those who prefer to chow down on the spot, and she recently opened a Cheeseburger Baby location at Bob's Your Uncle on 71st Street in Miami Beach.
She says she isn't ready to open her dining room and, despite the fact that her business thrived in the wee hours of the morning, is content with the midnight curfew. "My entire goal is to protect my employees and customers," Vitori tells New Times. "Coronavirus hasn't gone away and I honestly like the curfew because it keeps things maintained."
Though she opposed Miami Beach's total lockdown and the more draconian curfews that were previously in place, she says midnight is a fair time to ask people to go home amid a pandemic. "Look, remember the saying your parents had — that nothing good happens after midnight? It's true. You have a few drinks, you get loose...."
Even if the curfew were to be lifted in its entirety at this point, she says, she'd close Cheeseburger Baby at midnight. "We have an open kitchen, and I don't want people leaning over the counter. I'm not comfortable with it. That's my decision and it's the safe way to go. A life is not worth staying out for, no matter what."