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Florida's Miami-Dade Pushes Back On Loosening Of Coronavirus Restrictions

Miami-Dade County says it will not fully comply with a decision by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to lift most restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus, saying it's too soon to safely reverse the precautions.

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, speaking Tuesday with local medical advisors, and in a conference call with White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and the nation's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that the number of COVID-19 cases in the county has declined because it has reopened very slowly.

"We've seen good results from that," he said. "And my concern is that opening up too many things too quickly could lead us in the opposite direction."

Birx and Fauci have both expressed concern at DeSantis' order issued Friday that lifts statewide restrictions on restaurants, bars and other businesses. As part of the order, the governor also said that local governments would no longer be able to issue fines to people for not wearing mandated face coverings. In addition, he said fines issued so far would be suspended.

Friday's decision by DeSantis caught many local governments off-guard and officials scrambled to determine what it meant for local rules.

Gimenez acknowledged that Miami-Dade's Home Rule Charter gives the county standing to challenge some state oversight. But he said, "At this point, we can work within the boundaries of the rules."

He said bars and restaurants that are able to keep a six-foot separation between tables can now go to 100% capacity. But other establishments with less space will still have to limit occupancy to 50%, he said.

The county will continue to issue civil citations with fines to people who don't wear face coverings in public places, Gimenez said. To comply with the Governor's emergency order, he said the fines won't be collected until after the order expires.

For now, a county-wide 11 p.m. curfew remains in place, even though the Miami Heat are in the NBA finals.

"Let's celebrate," Gimenez said, "by watching the Heat and the Lakers at home."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.
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