As promised, Miami-Dade County appealed the ruling halting the countywide curfew in court on Monday, October 19, and won, which was announced by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez late in the evening. As of Tuesday, October 20, the countywide curfew of midnight to 6 a.m. is back in place and can be legally be enforced. County lawmakers also plan to meet with health officials later this week to decide the future of the curfew.
On Friday, October 16, Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Beatrice Butchko temporarily barred the county from enforcing its nightly curfew of midnight that has been in place in some capacity since March 12. The ruling was due to a lawsuit brought against the county by Miami-Gardens strip club Tootsie’s, who in its lawsuit said the curfew goes against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ order barring all local COVID-19 restrictions within the state. Butchko sided with Tootsie’s saying the curfew was “illegal,” since it prohibited employees from working which goes against DeSantis’ order issued on September 25.
While the county was appealing the ruling Gimenez noted, “As of right now, the County cannot enforce the curfew at businesses until resolution of the appeal. From a practical matter, the curfew is unenforceable until the appeal is settled by the courts.” But he added that other safety precautions will and needed to be enforced like using face masks and social distancing.
The latest version of the curfew was implemented in July as a way to curb late-night gatherings and parties in restaurants, bars, and private homes as COVID-19 positive cases surged amongst the state— topping out at more than 15,000 cases a day. Since then the numbers have declined statewide, but Florida still reported more than 4,000 cases over the weekend, the highest daily total since August.
Fears of an uptick in cases is clearly on the mind of county officials with assistant county attorney David Murray writing in his appeal, “the prior spike in COVID-19 cases was caused, to a significant degree, by persons congregating late at night, with alcohol, and lax attention to facial coverings and social distancing.” Noting that the current injection will cause the rest of the community to, “rely on a wish and a prayer that those revelers will not carry COVID-19 home with them and start new chains of infection amongst their families.”
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