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Miami Beach re-closes park over citizens without masks, as local lawmakers wield power

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Having established that they can and will shut down their communities in response to the coronavirus outbreak, some local officials won’t hesitate to do it again.

Just look to South Florida, which has been hit hardest by COVID-19. The city of Miami Beach reopened South Pointe Park last Wednesday, only to close it Monday because residents were not wearing masks as required.

Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez reopened parks and marinas under strict rules, including the use of masks except when parkgoers are exercising, the Miami Herald reported.

And when too many people turned up without masks, City Manager Jimmy Morales, the top administrator in Miami Beach, made the call to close South Pointe five days after it reopened.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the shutdown is the “only option the manager has” because police are being asked to not enforce social distancing laws, according to the newspaper.

“The social distancing is serious and it’s too early to disregard it,” Gelber said. “There is a lot of frustration but that can’t be the organizing principle of what we do.”

The Herald noted that more than 1,550 warnings were issued for face mask violations in just the first two days that parks were reopened.

Another 2,800 warnings were issued on Saturday, and 2,432 more on Sunday — with most warning taking place at South Pointe, according to Miami Beach Police.

On it’s official Facebook page, the City of Miami Beach announced the park’s closure “until further notice.”

“Friendly reminder that you MUST wear a face cover when enjoying any one of our open #MBParks,” the post added.

Or else.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced early reopening steps would begin on Monday, which will let some retailers to open with restrictions, along with restaurants, which have to maintain 25% capacity. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties have been excluded here, due to conditions on the ground.

Miami-Dade County was the first South Florida jurisdiction to close down its beaches, according to Florida Politics, which reported Monday that Giménez is not prepared to reopen them at this time.

South Florida is largely run by liberal Democrats, and many residents are unhappy with their leadership, or lack thereof.

In Palm Beach County, commissioners have not met formally for a public meeting since April 14 and because of the state’s “Sunshine Law,” they are legally not able to speak unless they meet. This leaves the un-elected county administrator Verdenia Baker making rules for the entire county.

One politician is speaking out against his colleagues’ heavy-handed approach.

Boca Raton Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers is one of the few calling for not only his community to reopen, but the country as a whole.

Rodgers argues that the shutdown should give way to sheltering the vulnerable and sick, according to BocaNewsNow.com.

“By far the largest damage to our society is now being done by the shutdown. It’s not even close. The data is there for all to see. We know the positive cases, the hospitalizations, and the fatalities. Many studies (antibodies tests, other tests) have told us now the positive rate is much higher than the actual positive tests. This means the fatality rate plummets.”

“We’ve got massive force unemployment, parks and beaches closed, families and friends not seeing each other,” he continued. “Whether it’s suicide, addiction, deferred screenings and elective surgeries, or poverty … the costs to lives and livelihood are not being calculated. They should be. The more vulnerable population should be sheltered and protected. Everyone else who has minimal risk needs to get back to work.“

Rodgers, who said at the time he was acting as a private citizen, led a contingent of protesters from Boca to Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue on April, to advocate for the reopening of the state.

There’s a private Facebook group, “Reopen South Florida,” which has over a thousand members who are growing angry with local authorities.

The page declares: “We are a 100% citizen-driven, grassroots initiative of liberals, libertarians, conservatives, and everyone in between, coming together to encourage state, county, and city leaders to reopen the businesses and natural areas of Florida. We are the unemployed, small business owners, healthcare practitioners, medical freedom fighters, patriots, parents and citizens.”

“While we grieve the recent losses of our country, we must also recognize that every Florida life and livelihood is essential and be clear about the devastating effects the ‘safer at home’ orders are having on our citizens,” the description added.
Tom Tillison

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