Closed No More: Broward Officials Celebrate Reopenings, Plea For People To Follow Rules

May 26, 2020

"It's a glorious day here on the beach, isn't it?" Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis asked an applauding crowd at news conference on Tuesday.

He was one of several city and county officials that lined up on Fort Lauderdale Beach to clarify what's open, what's not, and what happens next as Broward County begins phased reopenings during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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"The city's decision to close the beaches 10 weeks ago was a difficult but necessary decision," Trantalis said. "We have come a long way my friends...I ask everyone to follow the regulations to protect public health. Face masks will be standard at many places. Social distancing continues to be recquired..." 

As officials at the news conference asked people to stay six-feet apart, the officials themselves were not keeping a healthy social distance from each other, as seen in the video livestream on Facebook. 

Some of the people watching left comments that went unanswered by the local officials: 

"The beach is nice, but when will families get their unemployment checks?" one commenter wrote. 

"What will happen when someone needs CPR?" another commenter asked, concerned about the risk for lifeguards. 

Others noticed the group of officials on the beach was larger than 10 people standing together — that's the maximum number allowed to be on the beach in a group under the new county reopening guidelines. 

If you do visit the beach, just make sure the activity you pick, whether its surfing, kayaking, swimming, running, or walking, keeps you moving. However, before you decide to hit the beach, watch the weather. There's thunderstorms in the forecast for Tuesday afternoon, much like Memorial Day.

Read More: PHOTO GALLERY: A Wet, Windy Memorial Day In Fort Lauderdale 

And the beaches in Broward are not the only places now open. Gyms and hotels are too. Here's the list of restrictions still in place at each of those locations: 

Beaches

  • Beaches are open from sunrise until sunset; no picknicking, sunbathing, sitting, or lying on the beach.
  • No umbrellas, canopies, chairs, loungers, or coolers allowed.
  • No group or organized sports, i.e. football, volleyball, etc. 
  • No group gathering or events or more than 10 people.
  • Individuals must maintain a distance between each other of six feet at all times, except for members of the same household. 
  • While face masks aren't explicitly named in the county declaration regarding beach openings, they are still required for conducting essential activities, like going to the grocery store. Cities are allowed to enact stricter rules, compared to the county, if they choose. 

Gyms

  • Access is restricted to 50 percent capacity. 
  • People going into a gym to workout must have their temperatures taken.
  • Gyms are required to make disinfectant dispensers available for people to use upon entering, after using each machine, and after finishing their fitness routines, as well as make disinfecting wipes available.
  • Fitness classes and aquatic programs limit class sizes.
  • Social distancing markers must be placed around the facility and equipment must be appropriately placed apart from other equipment. 
  • Facilities must be deep-cleaned once every 24 hours.

Hotels

  • Guests must wear facial coverings or masks in lobbies or check-in areas, elevators, and any other shared spaces, but not inside rented rooms.
  • Ballrooms and other event spaces in hotels will remain closed.
  • Hotel must stick to capacity limits to ensure that guests have room to keep a social distance in common areas.
  • For a more complete list, see the county's Emergency Order 20-13.

Face masks are still required in the county. Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione pleaded with the public for compliance with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in mind. 

"Please be responsible, please continue to slow the spread of this disease," Maglione said. 

Violators can face warnings, and varying hefty fines, or even arrest, County Mayor Dale Holness warned. 

"We don't want to go to the extreme, but we must ensure that we're protecting the health and well-being of the people in Broward County, and move forward reopening the economy," Holness said. 

Trantalis told the crowd, and those watching online, that if this phase of reopening results in more spread of COVID-19, then officials will have to take other action.

"Please do not ignore these policies, it could cause the COVID virus to rebound," Trantalis said. "If that happens we may have to slow further reopening and reconsider the steps that we've already undertaken, and no one wants that."