54ºF

South Florida counties implement temporary holiday curfews

Air travelers head into, head out of South Florida for holidays despite COVID warnings
Air travelers head into, head out of South Florida for holidays despite COVID warnings

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Some South Florida counties have put into place a short-term curfew over the holidays in an effort to discourage the spread of the new coronavirus.

Broward County officials said this week that businesses would have to shut down from midnight to 5 a.m. over the holidays — with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, when the curfew starts an hour later.

“Christmas and New Year’s holidays are known for large gatherings," Broward Mayor Steve Geller told mayors during a conference call Tuesday. “We are expecting a spike in cases here.”

The temporary curfew, from Christmas to Jan. 4, is meant to stop people from moving around and gathering for parties. Midnight mass and travel to and from work are exempt, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Miami-Dade County already has a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m.

Broward County’s curfew announcement came this week, a day after a federal judge ruled that the county could not shut down bars and restaurants overnight.

Broward County’s rules, prohibiting the sale or alcohol between midnight and 5 a.m., violated Gov. Ron DeSantis' order removing restrictions on bars and restaurants, and they are “speculative and arbitrary,” wrote U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal.

The county had argued that late-night hours are especially risky because people drink more freely, lose their inhibitions and are less likely to follow COVID-19 precautions.

Key West, home to one of the nation's most high-profile New Year's Eve celebrations with its drop of a drag queen in a super-sized red high heel shoe, also has implemented a holiday curfew.

Visitors and locals who are not working at an essential business must be home or in their hotel rooms or vacation rentals by 10: 30 p.m. starting Thursday, Dec. 31, and ending at 6 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 3. All non-essential businesses must close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., according to the Miami Herald.

“The balance between the fiscal and physical health of our community places before us decisions that are not easy ones to make, and I can assure you are not taken lightly,” said City Manager Greg Veliz.