BROWARD COUNTY BEACHES RE-OPEN NEXT WEEK
BY MARIE PULEO | NEWS REPORTER
BROWARD COUNTY BEACHES RE-OPEN: Broward County issued an order today that extends Phase 1 reopening guidelines to beaches, commercial gyms and fitness centers, hotels and other commercial lodging, with restrictions, effective May 26.
This includes ocean beaches in Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.
The new order states that all beaches can be open from sunrise to sunset. Ocean activities such as surfing, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and body surfing are allowed, as well as walking, running and biking.
No picnicking, sunbathing, sitting or lying on the beach will be permitted, or any group or organized sports, including volleyball. Umbrellas, canopies, chairs, loungers and coolers are also not allowed yet, or any group gatherings of more than 10 people. Beach goers must maintain a minimum six feet of physical distance from each other at all times, except between members of the same household or group.
“I’m terribly happy that this has finally happened, and our residents will be allowed to enjoy the natural resources that are part of our community,” said Pompano Beach Mayor Rex Hardin. “It’s taken too long to get to this point.”
Hardin said he and other coastal mayors had been asking for the reopening of the beaches, and expressed frustration during conference calls with the County. He said that the majority of the County Commission, during a May 12 workshop, also endorsed opening the beaches, but the County Administrator held back because of wanting to stay in step with Miami-Dade County’s beach reopening, which is now targeted for June 1.
“We are talking about exercise and getting out there and enjoying the outdoors, we’re not talking about sitting down and having a party on the beach,” said Hardin. “That is strictly prohibited.”
Hardin said that, right now, in his city, there are BSO deputies at the beach to keep people from going on it.
“I’m sure that with all the resources we have available, once residents are allowed back on the beach, we can ensure they won’t sit on the beach,” said Hardin. “If they do, we’ll have to enforce the rules and make sure they move along.”
“This is not about throwing somebody in jail; this is about letting people enjoy the beach,” he added.
Hardin said that if the public doesn’t follow the rules, “I would issue an executive order to close down the beach again. I don’t want to do that, and I don’t think we’ll have to. I believe people will be responsible.”
COMMERCIAL GYMS AND FITNESS CENTERS
In addition to the Broward County beach reopen announcement, commercial gyms and fitness centers – including dance, martial arts, yoga, spinning and personal training studios – can open, with adherence to strict guidelines. Pools in these facilities can reopen, with restrictions.
Patrons will be required to have their temperature taken upon entering the facility, and must wear facial coverings, except when physically working out or during the cool-down portion of their workout. They must also sanitize their hands when entering the facility, after using each piece of equipment, and upon completing their fitness routine.
The facilities will be limited to 50% of the building’s maximum occupancy. Exercise stations and equipment must be spaced at least 10 feet apart, or six feet apart if they are separated by non-cloth protective barriers, such as plexiglass, and if the barriers are sanitized regularly.
The size of fitness classes must be restricted to ensure physical distancing of at least 10 feet in all directions, unless there are non-cloth barriers separating each participant. Establishments are encouraged to offer “senior hours” or designated times for elderly and high-risk groups to exercise safely.
Shower facilities will be closed, except for showers at facilities with pools, but only to shower prior to entering the pool.
HOTELS, MOTELS AND COMMERCIAL LODGINGS
As per the new county order, hotels, motels and commercial lodgings can open as long as they adhere to a myriad of protective measures. Employees are required to wear facial coverings and gloves for all activities that involve interaction with customers. Guests must wear facial coverings in all common areas. Capacity limits will be imposed for common areas to allow for 6-feet social distancing requirements.
Ballrooms and other special function spaces must remain closed.
Records of guest registration, staff work assignments and usage of the facility must be maintained for a minimum of 90 days to enable contact tracing. This includes documentation of key control procedures and security camera closed circuit tapes and files.
Room service will be delivered using a contactless method, and guest room housekeeping must be limited or by-request for the duration of a guest’s stay.
Establishments are encouraged to consider providing guests an “amenities bag” with hand sanitizer, masks, gloves and a fact sheet with COVID-19 awareness information at check-in.
The establishments are required to post on their website, blog or social media the steps they are taking to keep their guests safe.
With the beaches reopening, as well as hotels, “this was a big order that came out today,” said Hardin. “I’m glad we finally got here.”
PARI-MUTUEL FACILITIES & VACATION RENTALS
Per the county order, pari-mutuel facilities will remain closed, except when being used for a use expressly permitted under a Broward County Emergency Order, or by a professional sports team to conduct or host a training, competition, event or game consistent with the Governor’s Executive Order 20-123.
Vacation rentals are open, but only for essential lodgers, as authorized by the Governor’s Executive Order 20-87.
Law enforcement and code enforcement agencies are authorized to enforce the requirements of the new county order. Failure to comply can result in civil or criminal penalties, including fines, imprisonment or both.
Residents can also report violations anonymously online at mybroward.broward.org, or by calling the Broward County Call Center at 311 or 954-831-4000.
Municipalities can establish more stringent measures within their jurisdiction, to the extent permitted by law. Residents should check with their municipality to ensure they are aware of local requirements.
Earlier today, during a news conference, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that youth sports and summer camps in Florida would be allowed to reopen. However, local government retains the right to establish stricter requirements if their situation makes it safer for the community to do so.
Broward County, which was initially excluded from the Governor’s Phase 1 reopening, along with Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County, is not including youth sports and summer camps in the May 26 reopening. These activities will be addressed in a future emergency order.