Broward, Miami-Dade enter Day One of fewer restrictions and discussions over opening South FL beaches

A mobile police tower overlooks an area of South Beach that the city closed in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Credit: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

As South Florida’s Miami-Dade and Broward counties “reopened” Monday, it’s not clear yet how residents will respond as infections and deaths continue during the coronovirus pandemic.

Some residents in Fort Lauderdale, which is in Broward County, reported this past weekend that people “have moved away from social distancing,” established by health officials, said State Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat representing part of Broward County.

Jones arranged a virtual town hall meeting on Monday, with Broward County Mayor Dale Holness and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

The two counties have had the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Florida, and earlier, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach were excluded from an executive order to loosen restrictions on strict state-at-home orders.

But now, all three counties have reopened, as well as the whole state, allowing restaurants and retail shops to open at 50 percent capacity, among other measures.

As of Monday, the Florida Department of Health reported 46,442 COVID-19 infections and 1,997 deaths.

In Broward, infections rose to 6,322 and Miami-Dade, 15,864, according to the health department data. Both counties showed increases from the day before.

Holness ensured that law enforcement can get involved to impose safety procedures such as staying six feet apart from each other and wearing face masks.

“Most people have been practicing social distancing and following the guidelines that we set. Sure, there are going to be a few [that don’t follow guidelines].”

Broward officials have also been in discussion about when to open beaches and are “looking at May 26 as a target date,” after Memorial Day.

“The consensus of the mayors from Broward County is that we wait until after Memorial Day weekend [to open beaches],” Holness said. “So many people want to go out and exercise on the beach, and swim and enjoy the sun and the sand, which is what we are famous for in South Florida.”

In Miami-Dade, reopening plans are a little different, with most shuttered businesses delaying reopening its doors until Wednesday, said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

“We kind of got the rules late, they were approved by the governor on Thursday afternoon,” Suarez said.