Miami and Miami Beach Restaurants Plan to Reopen May 27 UPDATED

On May 27, Miami Beach will allow restaurants and sidewalk cafés to open.
On May 27, Miami Beach will allow restaurants and sidewalk cafés to open. Photo courtesy of A Fish Called Avalon
Update: In a press conference held in Doral today, May 14, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis officially approved Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez's 182-page plan to reopen the county's shops, restaurants, offices, and more. In addition, Broward Mayor Dale Holness announced that shops and restaurants in Broward County could open as of May 18, in tandem with Miami-Dade's order. Beaches across Broward and Miami-Dade will continue to remain closed, "at least until May 26", according to Holness.

Earlier today, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez released a 182-page document entitled "The New Normal," which spells out guidelines for the reopening of shops, swimming pools, restaurants, hotels, parks, offices, and more.

In an online press conference this afternoon that included mayors of many of Miami-Dade's municipalities, 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 that scenario, most businesses will be permitted to open their doors on May 20 (as will museums), with restaurants to follow on May 27.

Restaurants that fall under the jurisdiction of the county will be allowed to reopen on Monday, May 18.

Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said he would likely wait until the beginning of June; the City of Doral hasn't announced opening dates. Bars, for the time being, will remain closed.

Breaking with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' April 30 order that restaurant dining rooms would be required to operate at 25 percent of their maximum occupancy, the rules Giménez set forth allow for 50 percent of occupancy, so long as physical distancing between parties is at least six feet. Outdoor seating is to maintain the same distancing, and between indoor and outdoor seating, no restaurant may exceed its legally permitted occupancy.

Bar counters may operate but must remain closed to seating.

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

Among the requirements:
  • Restaurants must change and/or upgrade restaurant HVAC filters as necessary to maximize fresh air and increase outdoor airflow where possible.
  • Restaurants must install visible floor markings for appropriate six-foot distancing for each party in any waiting areas, whether exterior or interior.
  • All tables must be limited to parties of four, unless the party is from the same household unit, in which case the limit is six.
  • All tables for guests from more than one household unit must allow for at least three feet of internal table distance between the diners who face one another across the table.
  • Counters must be fitted with Plexiglas barriers as an additional level of protection for staff.
  • All employees must take their temperature before each shift and the restaurant must log each employee's temperature as "pass" or "fail." (A reading of 99.5 degrees or higher is a "fail" and the employee is not permitted to work their shift or enter the restaurant premises.) In addition, managers must ask every employee several health-related questions before each shift, including whether they've had contact since their last shift with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • All restaurant employees are considered to be food handlers and must wear masks, including hosts and servers.
  • All menus must be disposable and single-use or provided via a web page or app.
  • All condiments must be single-use.
  • Hand-sanitizing wipes must be available at every table, as well as at the host stand or entrance.
  • Host staff must maintain a six-foot distance from the customers they escort to the table.
Additionally, guests are to wait in vehicles for their tables when possible, adhere to all social-distancing protocols while on the premises, and wear masks at all times when not seated at a table.

At a Miami Beach City Commission meeting that began earlier in the day, City Manager Jimmy Morales revealed details of the municipality's reopening schedule.

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

On May 27, the municipality will permit its 855 restaurants and sidewalk cafés to reopen.

All businesses will be required to test employees for COVID-19 before opening and once a month thereafter. The plan also calls for temperature screenings, cleanliness plans, and monthly reports filed with the city regarding test results.

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

Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora intends to propose expanding access for sidewalk café seating and to close parking lanes, travel lanes, and some roadways to allow expansion of restaurant seating beyond sidewalks.

Beaches and hotels are to remain closed until early June.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss