Restaurants, bars, gyms and theaters ordered to close in Miami-Dade

Restaurants can keep their kitchens open for takeout and delivery

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

UPDATED, March 17, 2 p.m.: Miami-Dade County ordered all restaurant dining rooms, bars, gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other businesses closed due to coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Deputy Mayor Jennifer Moon made the announcement along with Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber on Tuesday morning at a press conference at Joe’s Stone Crab in South Beach. The order will go into effect as of 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said. It excludes essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and convenience stores, and does not apply to gyms and fitness centers that are part of residential buildings or fire stations.

It applies to all restaurants, bars, taverns, pubs, lounges, nightclubs, banquet halls, cocktail lounges, cabarets, breweries, cafeterias, and alcohol and food service businesses with seating for more than eight people, according to the county.

Restaurant and hotel kitchens will be allowed to stay open for delivery, drive-thru and pickup services. A number of restaurants and bars had previously announced they planned to close.

“Any congregation of more than 10 people in Miami Beach will be illegal,” Gelber said.

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Joe’s Stone Crab owner Stephen Sawitz and Versailles owner Felipe Valls both spoke. Joe’s plans to pay its employees for two weeks, and will keep Joe’s Take Away open.

“There will be a light on at Joe’s and there is a light on at the end of the tunnel,” Sawitz said.

Valls said his family’s 10 restaurants in Miami-Dade, which include Versailles and La Carreta, will pay its more than 2,000 employees for as long as it can.

“I feel and apologize to all of my employees. I wish we could do more,” Valls said. “We just ask everybody to hold on.”

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, made a similar move late Monday in the city of Miami. The state and local orders will impact more than 400 businesses in the Wynwood arts district alone, according to the Wynwood Business Improvement District.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all bars and nightclubs to shut down on Tuesday for the next 30 days. The governor also ordered restaurants throughout the state to cut their capacity in half.