MIAMI ( July 10, 2020 ) —
I want to stress what I have been saying since Monday: I have never said restaurants are to blame for the current spike. I’ve explained many times that the spike was caused by various factors — all involving social gatherings without masks and little to no social distancing, whether at private parties at people’s homes, graduation parties, Memorial Day weekend parties and street protests, as well as at restaurants that turned into bars with people not practicing social distancing during the month of June. These are the factors that our medical experts from Jackson Health, U-Health and the medical schools from FIU and UM, as well as the Florida Department of Health have shared with me and I have reiterated in media interviews all week.
The rising COVID-19 positivity rate will overwhelm hospitals unless everyone does their part and uses masks at all times, practices social distancing and washes their hands often. It’s not a wish - it’s absolutely necessary.
It’s clear from the science — both the CDC and the WHO — that social gatherings, especially indoors, without masks is a recipe for a public health disaster.
Unfortunately, restaurants are the only business where people must remove their masks to eat and drink, and with our current positivity rate throughout the County, it would be irresponsible and outright derelict for me to allow indoor dining at this time.
As it is, the positivity rate means that one of every four or even one of every three diners are carrying the virus, whether they know it or not, and the spread is airborne with studies showing longer periods of time where the contagion remains suspended. That is the science.
I worked with the county’s restaurants group earlier this week to produce a compromise until we can tamp down the spread and allowed outdoor dining. I also worked with the gyms and exercise studios to allow them to stay open only if their customers use masks while exercising indoors.
My administration’s goal is to continue to open up the economy in a safe manner. Unfortunately, the numbers right now are not allowing us to do so. It’s up to each and every one of us to make it possible to open restaurants, bowling alleys, banquet halls, entertainment venues and everything else that I was forced to close on Thursday by emergency order and to be able to lift the current curfew.
I am pained that people’s livelihoods are being impacted. That is not my goal. In fact, I informed the Board of County Commissioners this week during their meeting that we are putting together a $30 million program to help those businesses recently closed to stay afloat until they can open again.
I will not put our community’s health and our hospitals’ ability to save COVID-19 patients in peril to score political points. This is too serious, and people’s lives are at stake.
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