By Anne Geggis
An 11 p.m. curfew is going into effect Friday night and will continue nightly until Aug. 1, according to an emergency order from Broward County issued late Friday afternoon.
Most everyone will have to be in their homes from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the latest effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The move comes as COVID-19 cases in the county continue to climb, along with the number of hospitalizations. Just in Broward County, the number of new cases has topped 1,300 every day for the last week, so leaders are taking steps to curtail large gatherings they believe the cause of the infection’s spread.
“It is important for residents and businesses to understand the role they play in reducing these alarming statistics by following reopening guidelines and requirements for social distancing and wearing facial coverings,” a press release from the county reads.
The curfew represents a rollback of the reopening from a shutdown period that began in mid-March and ended in mid-May. During that period, all businesses deemed “nonessential” were closed. People were told to remain at home, except for groceries, gas, and medical care, since avoiding the infected is the only way to stop the virus’ spread.
For the curfew emergency order, only first responders, news media, delivery or transportation drivers, government employees, people needing emergency medical care and utility personnel are allowed to be out of their homes for the hours between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., until Aug. 1, according to the order.
The curfew comes as unwelcome news for Spencer Molz. His business at 2125 N. University Drive, Game Night Arcade, really gets rolling at 9:30 p.m., he said.
He’s already had to furlough two workers as a result of the pandemic’s effects.
“It just feels like the county wants more businesses to go out of business,” Molz said.
A call from Coral Springs Talk was the first he’d heard that his hours would be shorter Friday night.
“And I get emails from the city and the county,” he said.
In addition to ordering the majority of citizens in their homes by 11 p.m., the emergency order issued Friday also:
- Prohibits private gatherings of more than ten people at residential properties, indoors or outdoors. People who are at gatherings larger than ten people could be subject to a fine, and owners of the property could also be fined, whether they are present or not.
- Prohibits vacation rentals without on-site owners from operating for guests checking in from July 20 through Aug. 20.
- Requires food and drink to be ordered and consumed at a table — no ordering at bar counters.
- Requires those exercising at commercial gyms to wear facial covering — revoking the previous orders that allowed no mask during exercise.
Most of the cases, about 80 percent, involve an entire household getting infected from one person who brings the virus home, said Commissioner Lamar Fisher. He said the situation is extremely alarming.
“I think we need to … continue to try to curb this disease without doing a shutdown,” he said. “We’re trying to avoid a shutdown.”
Commissioner Michael Udine, who represents part of Tamarac, blamed large gatherings for the virus’ surge.
“This is going to be a detriment to our businesses,” he said of the curfew. “But we must. It’s a way to get this under control.”
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- Anne Geggis has been a newspaper reporter for 30 years, most recently at the Sun Sentinel. She graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., with a double major in journalism and sociology.
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