Coronavirus Crackdown: Fort Lauderdale, Miami Target COVID-19 Laws Violations
MIAMI MASK RULES & FINES
If you violate mask rules in Miami, you could be facing $500 fines and up to 180 days in jail.
Miami is serious about curbing the spread of coronavirus as South Florida has emerged as a clear hot spot of the pandemic. It is mandatory that all people wear a mask at all times in public, even outside in all of Miami-Dade County.
For most individuals, the fine will be $100 for not wearting a mask. First mask-rule violators can receive only a $50 fine, while second-time offenders are likely to pay $100, and third-time offenders will be fined $500. There are community service options for those who can't afford the fine.
Miami Police warn people caught not wearing a mask after receiving a $500 fine may be subject to arrest or be ordered to appear in court.
Depending on the situation, police can at any time charge mask-rule violators - what they call violatos of the "new normal" guidelines - with a second-degree misdemeanor that can require fines up to $500 and up to 180 days in jail.
Exceptions of the mask mandate apply to children younger than 2, people with medical conditions or certain disabilities and those who are hearing-impaired or communicating with someone else who is hearing-impaired.
Court Ruling says Palm Beach County can enforce Mask Mandates
In Palm Beach County, an appeals court ruling on Jan. 27 found that Palm Beach County cannot be blocked from enforcing its COVID-19 mask mandate, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Earlier in January, a Boynton Beach woman who was against mask mandates was arrested in West Boca after refusing to cover her face in a bagel shop. Cindy Falco-DiCorrado then refused to leave the store and was arrested on Florida trespassing charges.
In South Florida, Sun Sentinel reported: "Mask mandates have proven to be a wedge ... with many seeing them as an extension of political differences between mask supporting liberals on one side and conservatives who press their personal freedoms on the other."
The appeals court, however, ruled that Palm beach CAN enforce their mask mandate as the county's mandate "has a clear rational basis based on the protection of public health."
Broward County Rules & Coronavirus Crackdowns
House parties - which violate the gathering limits in place to curb COVID-19 cases in South Florida - are now being targeted by Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
In addition to curbing the spread of coronavirus in Fort Lauderdale, Sheriff Gregory Tony made the house party crackdown announcement July 17 - A day on which Florida saw 11,500 new COVID-19 cases and after 4 house-party related shootings last weekend killed 3 people and injured 7 people, according to Sun Sentinel.
Broward County is also now under a nightly curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. to battle coronavirus. The curfew will be in place until at least Aug. 1.
"In the past week, Broward has experienced more than 1,300 new cases each day and positivity rates as high as 16.58%. Our hospitals are either at or are exceeding their bed capacity," the county said in a statement.
More than 1,100 calls about house parties have been made in Broward since March - when the pandemic really began to spread in South Florida.
Deputies will monitor social media to try to find the party locations to shut them down, Tony said. Violent crime teams will also be working to crackdown on the parties - which are mobile to avoid issues with police, Sun Sentinel reports.
Violators could be arrested or fined by police.
“There will be no warnings. We’ll enforce the laws. We’ll hold people accountable,” Tony is reported saying in a Sun Sentinel article. “This isn’t just a matter of statistical data that’s driving us out here. This is a call out from the community.”
An additional preventative measure in place is that vacation rental properties are only allowed to house the people who rented them in Broward County. This order was to curb the use of vacation rentals being used for house parties.
“We are running out of [hospital] bed space because all of these stupid people who insist it’s nothing worst than the flu are wrong,” said Steve Geller, Broward County’s vice mayor. “The flu doesn’t fill our intensive-care units.”
“There is frustration and concern in Broward County that if the coronavirus outbreak continues down this path, there may need to be a countywide shutdown,” Local 10 reported.
Broward County alone has had more than 35,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
If hospitalization gets any worse in Broward County, Mayor Dale Holness says the county will have to shut down.
Geller said he’s “angry because I am trying to prevent shutting down the businesses, which would be devastating. If we shut down the business community again, a lot of those businesses will never reopen;” local 10 reported.
While there have been nearly 800 warnings given in Broward for people not complying to the coronavirus safety rules, there have been fewer than 57 citations.
Miami is also cracking down on mask wearing - Miami announced Tuesday that 39 police officers are now solely dedicated to enforcing mask violations to help quell the COVID-19 Pandemic. This is another effort to curb the spread of coronavirus without needing to issue another stay-at-home order.
In Miami-Dade County, code enforcement officers and fire inspectors also have the power to issue tickets for $100 for individuals and $500 for business for those not following the mask mandates.
Holness asked Broward cities to stop issuing warnings and to instead issue citations.
Residents of Broward are encouraged to call BSO’s non-emergency helpline at 954-764-4357 to report unlawful or unusual activity in their neighborhoods, and to call 911 in an emergency.
If you have questions about your rights during the coronavirus pandemic, check out our free Coronavirus Crimes booklet.
Call Rossen Law Firm at 754-206-6200 if you, or someone you know, need a criminal defense attorney to protect your freedom and rights.