and Video Courtesy of Channel 9 WFTV
By Linda Robertson and
Published April 3, 2020
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, visibly displeased by a lack of
compliance with his emergency orders to slow the spread of the
coronavirus, announced Monday that all private swimming pools and gyms
Gimenez targeted condominiums and apartment buildings
where pools, gyms and other recreational or communal areas have remained
open as residents blithely ignore social distancing rules implemented to
protect them and their neighbors from the highly contagious COVID-19
“Unfortunately, some people are not taking this seriously, and they are
not practicing social distancing,” Gimenez said in a video issued for
Even before Gimenez’s order Monday, some local governments had been
trying to force condos and other multi-family buildings to shut down
their common spaces.
In Key Biscayne, Mayor Mike Davey said Sunday that he believed such
areas should have already been closed under a March 19 order from
Gimenez mandating closure of public and private “recreational
facilities” countywide. Key Biscayne police have been telling condo
owners to close them, he said.
Davey said he received a report that one resident who tested positive
for COVID-19 was still spending time with his family around the pool and
lobby in their building. Davey said he told the village police chief to
make sure the person self-isolates.
“It’s such a disregard for their neighbors. It’s preposterous,” Davey
The 700-unit Quantum on the Bay condo locked its gym two weeks ago and
closed its two pools, party room and cyber lounge five days ago, said
Andres Althabe, president of Quantum’s board and of the Biscayne
“We removed the chairs around the pools and a few people were out there
putting their towels down to get some sun and we had to say, sorry, no,
can’t do that or soon we’ll have a crowd,” Althabe said. “They asked if
we could restrict numbers at the pool but how would we control that —
counting people, separating people, disinfecting chairs? Nobody’s having
fun, but they are slowly realizing they have an obligation to protect
themselves so they can protect others.”
Residents of high-rises are in close quarters and it doesn’t help that
Margaret Pace Park across the street from Quantum is closed off with
yellow police tape, said Althabe, who is aware of two buildings in the
Edgewater area that will have to shut down their pools under Gimenez’s
“We have 2,000 residents so it is a small, vertical town,” he said.
“When people are that close together, there is friction.”
Quantum is among many buildings that have decided to prohibit visitors.
No deliveries can be made directly to units.
“We don’t want outsiders to be in elevators or in contact with
residents,” Althabe said. “You could be inviting in a friend who doesn’t
show symptoms but is a carrier. We’ve got a lot of scared people here.
We also have a few who have tried to sneak visitors in through the
garage so we’ve posted security there. We’ll request that police remove
trespassers. We could be too aggressive but we have no choice. Most
residents agree that we’re doing the right thing to prevent deadly
In Aventura, city officials issued a letter to a resident who, they were
told, had shown COVID-19 symptoms but was nonetheless seen sitting on a
bench outside their building.
The letter was hand-delivered to the resident — who had not been tested
— by building management and Aventura police, according to City Manager
“By going outside and sitting on a bench, [you are] not only violating
the city’s order, but also endangering the health of your neighbors,
their families, and the public at large,” the letter said, directing the
person to stay home except to get medical care or police would issue a
Aventura has already taken steps to close common spaces in multi-family
buildings, but Wasson said enforcement is a challenge.
Ideally, he said, residents who have symptoms or may have been exposed
to the virus should stay home, and let building management know if they
need to leave so that elevators and common areas can be cleaned and
cleared of other people.
“Nobody wants to be arresting residents who are not quarantining
themselves,” Wasson said. “It puts everybody in a tough situation.”
Gimenez also scolded people for congregating on golf courses — not to
play golf but to use the open space for a walk — and warned them not to
get too close to one another.
“Apparently there are large groups of people gathering at golf courses
with sidewalk access in Coral Gables and other places,” he said,
referring to Granada Golf Course and other spots popular for their
walking, jogging and biking circuits. “I have already closed all parks
and golf courses countywide. Closed golf courses cannot become open
parks. If you need to go out and walk your dog or get fresh air, that’s
fine, but you must practice social distancing.
“Remember, act as if everyone is carrying the virus and stay six feet
away from others.”
Gimenez, who previously issued an umbrella “safer at home” order, urged
residents to run errands singly or in pairs to reduce the number of
people in stores.“When you go grocery shopping or to the pharmacy, you
shouldn’t take a carload of people with you,” he said. “One or two
people going to the store from one household should be more than
Gimenez emphasized that police are patrolling public areas and stores to
enforce social distancing protocol and “will shut down those businesses
that are not marking locations so people stay at least six feet apart,”
he said. “This applies to the employees at those stores and the patrons
that must go to them. I expect municipal police departments to enforce
this countywide order.”
Gimenez wants “safer at home” to be a region-wide mantra.
“To beat COVID-19 we cannot have people in groups anywhere in Miami-Dade
County or anywhere in South Florida for that matter,” he said. “This is
not a hurricane that is coming at us and will be gone after a day. This
is a prolonged health emergency, and we have to act strategically as