Broward County officials have provided clarity on the COVID-19 safety rules of the state’s phase 3 reopening amid confusion from residents and businesses.
County officials say while they have “retool” local guidelines to ensure they are in line with the Governor’s mandate, they have not eliminated restrictions that require sanitization, social distancing and the wearing of facial coverings.
Included in the Governor’s Phase 3 reopening are the reopening of bars, night clubs and other businesses that until September 25 were closed under Broward’s Emergency Orders.
While the Governor’s Order temporarily suspends collection of individual fines for violations of Emergency Orders, including the wearing of facial coverings in public, it did not suspend the County’s ability to issue citations for these and other violations.
“Compliance enforcement has proven to be a key factor in containing the spread of COVID-19,” said Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry.
“We will continue to issue citations to businesses and individuals as our local Emergency Orders require, and it is our intent to collect the fines once the State’s Declaration of Emergency expires,” added Henry.
Anyone who receives a citation is entitled to an appeal, if they believe the citation has been issued in error.
Yesterday, the County issued a clarifying Emergency Order 20-27, effective October 2, which clarifies requirements for establishments that serve food and/or alcohol:
- On-premise consumption of food and alcohol must end at 11 PM.
- Establishments licensed to serve food may operate at up to 100% of indoor capacity if a distance of six feet is maintained between tables, and no more than six people sit at a table. Should an establishment not be able to meet the minimum 50% capacity requirement (as set forth by the Governor’s Executive Order), an establishment may, to reach the 50% capacity level, allow patrons to stand at an assigned table or in an assigned area, and must comply with social distancing requirements to the maximum extent possible.
- Establishments that only serve alcohol (that are not licensed to serve food) must operate at no more than 50% of the establishment’s indoor capacity.
- Total combined occupancy of indoor and outdoor areas shall not exceed the existing total maximum occupancy.
Emergency Order 20-27 also:
- Allows individuals at fitness centers and gyms to remove facial coverings while working out, but requires they be worn by individuals at all times when not engaged in physical activity, such as while moving between machines and around the establishment.
- Allows playgrounds and exercise equipment to reopen, so long as the managing entity takes responsibility for regular cleaning and sanitizing of the equipment.
- Permits hot tubs to open in homeowner association (HOA) communities, but operations are subject to more stringent rules that may be imposed by the HOA.
A comprehensive new Emergency Order from Broward County will be issued in the near future, which will realign guidelines and restrictions for various businesses with the Governor’s latest Executive Order.