Carlos A. Giménez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County

Carlos A. Giménez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County 

MIAMI (AP) — Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he’s instituting an overnight curfew and closing some businesses as the county’s number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates continue to rise.

Gimenez said Thursday night that the 10 6 a.m. curfew, which begins Friday, will be in place indefinitely. It begins on Friday night. The order closes casinos, strip clubs, movie theaters and other entertainment venues a month after they were allowed to reopen.

“This curfew is meant to stop people from venturing out and hanging out with friends in groups, which has shown to be spreading the virus rapidly,” Gimenez said in a statement.

On Thursday, Florida reported a new daily record of 10,109 COVID positive cases. The state’s health department on Thursday also tallied 325 new coronavirus hospitalizations in Florida, one of the biggest 24-hour jumps since the pandemic began.

Gimenez cited staffing shortages at local hospitals in announcing the curfew.

“I met with our medical experts this afternoon to discuss what other steps we can take to stop the spread of virus infection and ensure that our hospitals have sufficient capacity,” he said Thursday. “At this time, we have plenty of beds, but some hospitals are experiencing staffing shortages.”

The mayor’s order also tightens mask rules at restaurants, requiring customers to wear facial coverings at all times unless eating or drinking. Under the previous order, customers were allowed remove masks when they sat down.

The mayor’s spokeswoman, Patricia Abril, told the Miami Herald the order will allow restaurants to continue delivering food throughout the night and will not apply to people who are commuting to or from work.

Last week officials in Miami-Dade and many other counties across the state announced that beaches would be closed during the long July 4th holiday weekend.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez told the Herald he believes the new curfew is misguided.

“I don’t think the curfew is the answer, or an appropriate response to irresponsible people,” he said. “While it doesn’t completely shutdown businesses, it certainly curtails restaurants’ ability to survive.”

The latest county statistics show more than 1,300 COVID patients in hospitals Miami hospitals. Of those, 281 are in intensive-care beds, occupying about 63% of the ICU beds that would be otherwise available.

Gimenez said Miami-Dade police will be checking businesses throughout the holiday weekend to enforce mask and capacity rules, and closing establishments in violation.

“I do not want to go back to closing all but essential businesses, but the only way to avoid that is for everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Gimenez said in a statement. “That means every generation - everyone of us, no exceptions.”

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