Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez had previously said he wanted to see the 14-day positivity rate “as close to 5% as possible” before reopening indoor dining. On Tuesday, however, Gimenez announced that effective Monday, Aug. 31, island restaurants will be able to reopen the indoor dining rooms. The positivity rate on Tuesday was 9.35%.
The decision was made after Gimenez consulted with the Miami-Dade League of Cities and members of the restaurant task force. Village Mayor Mike Davey was one of those on the call Tuesday.
“It was a good call” Davey told Islander News. “This is difficult stuff.”
Davey requested, on behalf of island restaurant owners, to allow the establishments to stay open past 10 p.m., but Gimenez did not approve. “He (Gimenez) said he would do one of the two (open indoor dining or extend curfew).”
Gimenez said he would reconsider moving the curfew later in the night after the Labor Day weekend.
“I’m going to defer to him on this,” Davey said. “They work hard at this. They are taking our input and listening to us.”
While the key’s restaurants have, as a whole, done a good job, “some of the restaurants have been a little lapse at times (with their safety protocols),” Davey said, adding: “I do not want them to be shut again because they do not comply.”
Local restaurateurs welcomed the news from Gimenez. Chandra DeSilva, owner of La Scala on the Arcade Shopping Plaza, called it “good news.” Due to the layout of the Arcade, “outdoor seating is very limited.”
DeSilva said the 50% capacity for a small space like La Scala has, meant five fewer tables. “but it does give us a better shot to operate in a more financially feasible way.”
DeSilva said, “We will continue with our present safety protocols.”
Gladys Arneri, co-owner of Milanezza in the CVS Plaza, said the food and beverage industry has taken the brunt of virus-related closings. “Due to the summer heat and rain, it has been complicated to run exclusively serving outdoors,” said Arneri. Reopening indoor dining will “give us a chance to recoup some of the losses we’ve had.”
Restaurants will have to adhere to a 50% capacity limit, Gimenez said, adding the decision was made with the approval of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Gimenez also said face mask requirements will continue inside and outside of restaurants. Officers will also be encouraging restaurants to always keep the air conditioner running and open windows to increase air circulation.
Eating or drinking at the bar is still off limits and bars and clubs will remain closed.
You nay watch Mayor Gimenez's press conference here.