Beginning (Friday, July 17th) at 11 p.m., a curfew will be in place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily in Broward.
The new restrictions come under an emergency order issued Friday afternoon by County Administrator Bertha Henry.
Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said the curfew lasts through Aug. 1, giving the county time to gauge if it helps reduce the spread of the virus. If necessary, Holness said the curfew could be extended if the numbers don’t improve.
Broward now joins Miami-Dade County in having a curfew. Palm Beach County doesn’t have one, though it’s requiring all restaurants to close at 11 p.m., and it’s possible the county could enact tighter restrictions if conditions worsen.
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner on Friday afternoon called it a “big deal” to limit residents’ travels at night, but if it means protecting the public’s health, he said he “absolutely would vote for a curfew.”
People who break Broward’s curfew or ignore other measures could end up facing civil and criminal penalties, Holness said at a news conference Friday afternoon. These penalties could include fines starting at $500 and up to six months in jail, depending on the circumstances.
“I’m imploring the public to take responsibility, personal responsibility, to safeguard the health of yourselves and each other,” Holness said.
This marks the second time that Broward County enacted a nightly curfew in recent weeks. The county had one that lasted three nights in early June, put in place to boost public safety. It came as protests were underway across the country over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minnesota police officer.
Under Broward County’s new order, it also will crack down on the “large social gatherings” that are still happening in the streets and peoples’ homes, despite the number of cases continuing to rise.
“The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb, along with positivity rates,” the county said in a statement. “In the past week, Broward has experienced more than 1,300 new cases each day and positivity rates as high as 16.58%. Our hospitals are either at or are exceeding their bed capacity.”
Through July 15, Broward County’s code and law enforcement teams issued a total of 57 citations and 768 warnings, the statement said.
In addition, the order says private gatherings at residential properties, whether they may be inside or outside, cannot have more than 10 people. People who decide to go to these gatherings could face individual civil and criminal penalties.
Vacation rentals have proven to be sites for “huge parties,” Holness said.
So starting on Monday, any short-term vacation rentals that are not “actively managed by on-site owners” or management or do not have on-site security 24 hours a day to ensure compliance will have to close. This will last through Aug. 20, the order says.
“I’m even hearing that some young people are having parties, gatherings and daring to see who would get the virus first,” Holness said.
“That’s a little bit crazy to think that someone would risk their life by doing that. But that’s what I’m hearing from various sources, and I’ve been hearing that for a little while now,” Holness said.
Ordering food or drink at any restaurant bar will also have to stop, too. The order says only those seated at tables can be served. And in gyms, people must still wear a mask at all times.
No establishment can serve or do business with any customer who is not following the county’s mask requirement, according to the order.
Before Holness’ news conference, a man who identified himself as Chris Nelson was taken into custody in the lobby of the government center. The man had been shouting about how the new restrictions were intrusions on citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights.
Police ordered him to leave, saying he was causing a disturbance. he initially refused to leave but complied once the officer ordered him to place his hands behind his back.
It was the second person to disrupt a planned news conference this week. At Gov. Ron DeSantis’ conference on Monday, a heckler shouted over DeSantis as he started speaking, calling him an embarrassment, Newsweek reported.
Full Sun-Sentinel article: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/coronavirus/fl-ne-broward-covid-curfew-20200717-rp4nqbzucjcsxkgyrr2o5zpine-story.html