Some people didn't know it, but since July, Miami-Dade County has been under a nightly curfew meant to keep the number of COVID-19 cases under control. After an initial 10 p.m. curfew, the county moved to a later midnight curfew in October.
Soon, nightlife venues and other businesses won't need to turn out the lights when the clock strikes 12. County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced today that she is lifting the curfew beginning Monday, April 12. Cava said she and her administration, including the county's chief medical officer, Dr. Peter Paige, analyzed the county's COVID positivity rate and other data points to determine that it is safe to lift the curfew.
"We considered all of the available data, including the 14-day positivity rate, and also hospitalization from COVID and death rates," the mayor said during a press conference in downtown Miami. "These have all declined significantly as vaccination for the most vulnerable has expanded and our overall vaccination program has progressed."
Paige, the county's chief medical officer, explained that the county's positivity rate — the percentage of all COVID tests that come out positive — in the past 14 days was 6.4 percent, which represents a decrease from the peaks the county was experiencing a few months ago. The positivity rate also remained flat over the past month, which he said was a good sign.
Although Paige said he expected an increase in positivity rates because of spring-break travel and other tourism to Miami, there wasn't a significant jump.
"We thought we'd get a little bump, but it wasn't as bad as we thought it could have been," Paige said. "That's also a positive."
Hospitalizations have decreased in the past month, and there are also fewer people in critical care, according to Paige.
Business owners have pushed back against the curfew and urged the county to lift it, but Paige insists that it was an effective tool in the county's strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID.
During the press conference, Cava also announced "streamlined" COVID-19 safety protocols for businesses and residents. Cava says the new, relaxed guidelines will be published today and go into effect tomorrow.
Some of the eased regulations will allow for childcare centers to double capacity, senior centers to reopen, and public water fountains to be used again. The eased guidelines also allow Miami-Dade residents to be outside without wearing face coverings so long as they are six feet apart and have a mask in hand in case others get closer.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.