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It’s Official: Miami-Dade and Broward County Restaurants Can Begin Reopening May 18

50 percent capacity at restaurants, very detailed sanitation methods, and more

Photo by kayleigh harrington on Unsplash

Today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved Miami-Dade county’s phase one reopening plan, which will begin on Monday, May 18. Miami-Dade will join Broward county, which will also begin its reopening on May 18, with all plans including reopening restaurants with varying degrees of restrictions. However, the City of Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Doral, and Key Biscayne will delay reopening restaurants with the new guidelines until May 27, but other non-essential business like retail can open on May 20.

A 184-page proposal by Miami-Dade county outlines different colored “phases” and Miami-Dade currently sits in the “Orange Flag Phase,” but come Monday the county will move to the “Yellow Flag Phase.” That phase gives a very detailed outline for restaurants for reopening, including:

  • Restaurants must maintain no more than 50 percent of its capacity for indoor dining, and while outdoor dining isn’t specifically capped, when combined with indoor dining the restaurant can’t exceed 100 percent of its building occupancy at any time.
  • Tables must be seated 6 feet apart, and a maximum of four people can be seated at one table, unless it’s members of the same household, in which case it can be a group of 6.
  • All restaurants must create visible floor markings for appropriate 6 foot distancing in any waiting areas, whether exterior or interior.
  • Bar areas can be treated as a table for dining, but not for bar service.
  • Customers must be wearing masks at all times unless seated.
  • All restaurant employees considered to be food handlers must wear masks at all time.
  • Glove use is required for all back-of-house staff.
  • Plexiglass barriers must be installed at counters.
  • Restaurants must ask a series of health screening questions to employees before each shift, and employees must take their temperature at home before coming into work or the restaurants can take their temperature on-site.
  • Restaurant employees must wash their hands and change gloves every 30 minutes while working, and after every time coming in contact with a table.
  • All menus must be single-use or provided by a QR code that can be pulled up on a cell phone.
  • Only silverware rolled in a napkin or disposable silverware is permitted. No water or wine glasses are allowed as table presets.
  • Restrooms have to be single-person use.
  • Check presenters cannot be used. Clarifications for what must be used instead wasn’t disclosed.
  • Hand sanitizing stations or wipes must be available at every table.

Broward County will also reopen phase one businesses on May 18. Restaurants and food establishments would be able to operate at 50 percent indoor capacity — not the original 25 percent which was reported earlier in the week — while there are no capacity limits on outdoor dining, but tables must be at least 6 feet apart.

The municipalities that are choosing to delay their restaurant reopenings to May 27 say they are doing so in order for restaurants to get items that require additional lead time like disposable menus and plexiglass barriers, as well as train staff and acquire additional permitting required by the city for outdoor seating on busy streets like Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue.

“This gives us time to educate our restaurants, make sure they have the ability to procure safety equipment, and we’re ramped up in our enforcement abilities as well,” notes City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez in a press conference.

The varying dates throughout the county are due to the fact that Miami-Dade has 35 municipalities — like the City of Miami Beach and the City of Miami — and they are allowed to set their own guidelines, noted Gimenez last week in a press conference. Those guidelines can be as strict as the municipality would like — but they can’t be more relaxed then the county’s orders.

UPDATED (05/14/20): Story updated to reflect approval of reopening measures by the governor.