Story at a glance

  • Miami-Dade County authorizes new fines to enforce masks in public.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) never formally issued a statewide mask mandate.

As Florida approaches nearly 400,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and an increase is hospitalizations, Miami-Dade County, one of the state’s virus hotspots, implemented stringent new penalties Wednesday for violating public health protocols.

Residents of cities in Miami-Dade who do not wear masks or appropriate facial coverings in public are now subject to higher fines, local outlets report.

Structured in a tiered format, first and second level offenses include a $100 fine, with the third level being a steeper $500. Any greater offenses come with an arrest or notice to appear in court.

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Previously, Miami-Dade issued a $50 fine for not wearing a mask in the county. Miami Beach will reportedly uphold this amount and issue $50 fines for in-public mask mandate violations beginning Thursday.

“The hospitals are telling us that we have the capacity in this moment to not shut down the economy as long as you do this — as long as you enforce masks,” Miami Commissioner Ken Russell is quoted as saying.

Florida was one of the last states to issue a mandatory lockdown of nonessential businesses and did not formally order masks to be worn in public spaces. 

In light of the absence of gubernatorial leadership, counties have issued restrictions to help reduce virus transmission. Neighboring Broward County recently announced the possibility of a curfew to curb social gatherings, a move Miami Beach undertook, shuttling public areas down at 8 p.m. 

Miami-Dade County currently has a 10 p.m. curfew in place.

Published on Jul 23, 2020