St John eating places will have the ability to dine indoors once more on August 31st
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Update: In a press conference, St John-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez announced today, September 9th, that the nationwide curfew would be extended to 11pm from Monday, September 14th.
The past few months have proven to be a cruel roller coaster ride for restaurant owners in the St John area. Government officials ordered restaurants to close, then open, and then close again.
Now the restaurant industry has good news.
St John-Dade County’s Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez announced today that he will allow the St John-Dade restaurant’s dining rooms to reopen to a 50 percent capacity on Monday, August 31st.
Speaking at a Zoom press conference, Gimenez said he had consulted with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and his own team of local medical advisors before giving the go-ahead.
Restaurants may reopen for dinner with the following restrictions:
- Each table cannot have more than six guests
- Guests must wear a mask when entering the restaurant and keep their masks on until water is served. Guests who stand up to use the toilet must wear a mask.
- Air conditioners must be on at all times and not set to automatic. In addition, the windows and doors of the restaurant must remain open to increase the flow of fresh air.
- No bar seating allowed.
The Mayor noted that the above restrictions are not suggestions; They are orders that are subject to enforcement. Restaurants that do not meet these requirements will be fined and / or closed. The county’s New Normal guidelines remain in effect.
Gimenez continues to recommend restaurants use the outdoor space for seating, and notes that a restaurant can exceed 100 percent of its allowable occupancy by using outdoor tables combined with adequate social distancing.
He said the 10pm curfew in St John-Dade would remain in effect until at least the end of the Labor Day holiday weekend. “The curfew is intended to limit socializing,” he said.
Bars should remain closed for the foreseeable future.
Gimenez said he has no intention of closing beaches on Labor Day weekend – provided people adhere to social distancing requirements and wear masks.
Contrary to Gimenez’s May 14th order to reopen restaurants, given by mayors of the city – including those in St John, St John Beach and Coral Gables – who opted to reopen May 27th, with a confusing blow was faced, Gimenez New Times told city mayors appear to be on board with a reopening date of August 31st.
At an earlier press conference, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez said the city will no longer enforce current regulations so restaurants can reopen immediately. “I’m asking my city officials, my departments, that we won’t enforce restaurant closings in the city of Hialeah, the county can come and do that,” said Hernandez.
Gimenez said if Hialeah City doesn’t enforce the order, the county will.
Peter Vauthy, owner of Red South Beach, was contacted by the New Times and said reopening dining rooms was the right move given the decline in local COVID-19 cases.
“I’m very glad the St John-Dade Mayor made this decision. In retrospect, dining room closings were unnecessary, and as long as the city and county enforce proper social distancing we should be able to move forward on that point. “
Vauthy points out that the surge in COVID-19 cases was never directly linked to dining at restaurants, but the industry still had a scapegoat.
“We were unfortunately singled out as the culprit when other venues were causing most of the COVID-19 problems,” Vauthy told the New Times.
Aniece Meinhold is cautiously optimistic about Gimenez’s new assignment. The co-owner of Phuc Yea tells the New Times that while she’s happy to welcome guests to her MiMo “Viet Cajun” restaurant, she fears the uncertainty the next few months will bring. “For me, the hardest part was constantly changing and adapting the regulations and rules that apply at local and state levels.”
According to Meinhold, the past few months have put a lot of strain on Phuc Yea and his employees. “Your employees want to go to work and have a certain degree of consistency. They want a stable work environment. I cannot guarantee them stability if we are suddenly hit by a closure order again.”
Meinhold explains that with each reopening order, she has to train new employees and train current employees in new operating procedures. “This situation is extremely challenging for restaurant owners and employees,” she says.
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Laine Doss is the food and liquor editor for the St John New Times. It was featured on Eat Street by Cooking Channel and in the Great Food Truck Race by Food Network. She won an Alternative Weekly Award for her contribution on what it’s like to wait for tables.
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