In a sign that the Miami economy is coming to a complete standstill amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said yesterday that the county will close all public beaches to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"Tomorrow, countywide, new measures will take effect that include closure of all beaches, parks, additional recreational venues, and many businesses," Gelber wrote in a Facebook post late last night. "For our City and community I believe these, though painful, were necessary steps and I let County Mayor Gimenez know I supported them earlier today."
Miami Beach has made national news as spring breakers have continued to party — often unabashedly — on the beach as the virus spreads. Earlier this week, the organizers of Winter Party Festival, an LGBTQ-friendly party that has occurred in South Beach annually since 1994, said a partygoer had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Yesterday the Boston Globe reported that a group of six Boston men flew to Miami for the festival — and four returned positive for COVID-19.
Elsewhere around the county, videos of spring breakers have gone viral as an example of what not to do during the pandemic: namely, drinking to excess in packed bars. In addition to crowding local Flanigan's chains in defiance of social-distancing guidelines, numerous drunk, boneheaded partygoers on Ocean Drive told TV news crews that they didn't fear contracting the disease or spreading it to the vulnerable:
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Now Mayor Gimenez has announced he'll sign an order shutting down virtually all businesses in the county — including "non-essential retail, private educational facilities, casinos, and other recreational and entertainment activities" to fight the outbreak.
This order will be effective throughout Miami-Dade County and will include all municipal facilities, such as parks and beaches.— Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez (@MayorGimenez) March 18, 2020
Gimenez says he'll sign the order sometime tonight.