Miami-Dade Mayor Blasted for Pic in Busy Barbershop

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez visits a barbershop in Miami Lakes.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez visits a barbershop in Miami Lakes. Photo by @mayorgimenez/Instagram
click to enlarge Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez visits a barbershop in Miami Lakes. - PHOTO BY @MAYORGIMENEZ/INSTAGRAM
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez visits a barbershop in Miami Lakes.
Photo by @mayorgimenez/Instagram
Hugo "Juice" Tandron was scrolling through Instagram after dinner Monday night when a photograph of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez appeared on his feed.

In the photo, the mayor is standing in the middle of a crowded Miami Lakes barbershop, surrounded by eight men and a boy, all wearing facemasks. Tandron, the popular owner of Headz Up BarberShop and official barber of the Miami Marlins, was outraged.

"When I saw it I was like, I cannot believe he put that up," Tandron told New Times yesterday. "Those people weren't even three feet away from each other."

In many parts of Miami-Dade County, barbershops and other personal-grooming businesses were allowed to reopen Monday after the two-month coronavirus lockdown. But the order signed by Giménez reopening those businesses came with a stringent set of rules — only ten people are permitted inside or 25 percent of the building's capacity, whichever number is smaller. And at all times, customers must stay at least six feet apart from one another.

After Giménez posted the photo, many of his Instagram followers chimed in to say the picture appeared to violate the mayor's own restrictions.

"How is this social distancing (6 feet a part)? There is a child on the floor and like 10 men in a place smaller than an efficiency!" one commenter wrote.

A hairstylist in Palm Beach County remarked, "This is EMBARRASSING! I work in Boca and only 6 of us can work at a time in a 6,000 sq for [sic] salon... This picture is why the numbers are going to spike. I'm all for opening, but only if you can follow the guidelines."

Tandron also commented on the photo: "where are all the guidelines you asked us BarberShop owners to follow? Where are all the safety precautions here?... Honestly this seems like a joke. No wonder everyone laughs at dade county & says 'y'all can't get on the same page with all the egos in office!' Shameful you would even post this.!"

State Rep. Cindy Polo, who represents parts of Hialeah and Miami Lakes, took to Twitter to express her disapproval.

"It's a shame to see so many elected officials pose and brag while putting our community at risk," she tweeted yesterday along with a screenshot of the Instagram photo. "Follow the guidelines - even if officials CAN'T LEAD BY EXAMPLE!"
Reached by New Times, Patty Abril, a spokesperson for Giménez, defended the mayor's actions and said the barbershop was complying with county guidelines.

"The markings on the floor clearly delineate the required social distancing," Abril wrote in an email yesterday. "All customers and barbers have masks. There were nine people in the shop before the Mayor walked in, keeping to the ten-person limit."

She added that "the angle of the photo may make it appear that the people are closer together than they are."

Richard Ruiz, the owner of Miami Lakes Barbershop, said he didn't know the photo opp with the mayor had caused a stir on social media until New Times contacted him.

"We're just excited," he said. "It's not every day we get a visit from the mayor."

Ruiz said he is a member of one of Giménez's "working groups" for restarting the economy and helped fashion some of the rules. He said the two men in the background of the photo were finished with their haircuts and on their way out of the 480-square-foot barbershop when it came time to take the photo. And he says Giménez cautioned everyone to maintain a safe distance before the photo was taken.

"There wasn't really a lot of space to be able to take that picture," said Ruiz, who is shown on the mayor's left in the photo. "It looked like I'm a lot closer to him than I am."

Ruiz said he did not know the barbershop's capacity off the top of his head but believed he was adhering to the guidelines since there were less than ten people inside.

New Times was unable to independently determine the business' maximum occupancy. A Miami Lakes spokesperson said the building was permitted prior to the town's incorporation; a county spokesperson was unable to retrieve the certificate of occupancy yesterday because the records are so old. (The Miami Lakes Barbershop has been in the Ruiz family's hands for more than 50 years, according to the Miami Herald.)

Tandron told New Times he has no problem with the barbershop or its owner but thinks it was irresponsible for Giménez to post a photo that could give residents the impression that the county order allows people to be crammed inside such a small space.

"It was by his own guidelines and his own words that he put up [the rule of] 25 percent of total capacity," Tandron said. "It's definitely a bad example."
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Jessica Lipscomb is news editor of Miami New Times and an enthusiastic Florida Woman. Born and raised in Orlando, she has been a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.
Contact: Jessica Lipscomb