Watching a movie or play in the theater. Bowling. Playing in the arcade. Yes, fun is returning to Miami-Dade after months of COVID-19 closures.
Miami-Dade and Broward County have finally entered Phase 2 as COVID-19 cases continue to show signs of slowing down, a positive outlook for Florida’s hardest hit counties, which have recorded thousands of cases and deaths since the pandemic began in March. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the OK last week.
What does this mean?
Miami-Dade and Broward enter Phase 2. What changes?
In Miami-Dade County, Phase 2 means movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, playhouses, concert houses, convention spaces, auditoriums and other indoor amusement facilities can reopen at 50 percent capacity Friday afternoon. Banquet halls will also be allowed to reopen, a Miami-Dade County spokeswoman confirmed.
Phase 2 also means limited competitive play, including scrimmages, will be allowed again. Organized inter-team sports and league games are still not happening, unless you’re playing tennis, racquetball or baseball. And before you ask, yes, you still need to wear a mask during these games and scrimmages.
The changes will go into effect at 12:01 p.m. Friday, just in time for the weekend.
Order 28-20 goes into effect Friday at noon, allowing movie theaters, concert houses, convention spaces, auditoriums, bowling alleys, arcades & indoor amusement facilities to open as long as they’re following the requirements of our New Normal Guidebook: https://t.co/a1upYiiUCv
— Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez (@MayorGimenez) September 17, 2020
Phase 2 didn’t change anything in Broward County, where movie theaters and bowling alleys were already reopened at limited capacity.
Don’t be fooled, however. You’re still expected to wear a mask at all times in South Florida. It’s the law.
You’re also still expected to stay at least six feet away from others, wash your hands constantly, stay home if you’re sick and follow a bazillion other rules that have been put in place to help stop the novel coronavirus spread.
Phase 2 has also opened the path for the superintendents of Miami-Dade and Broward County public schools to consider having students and teachers return to the classroom for socially distanced learning, possibly in October. Kids whose parents opted for the fully online option will remain in virtual learning.
This doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Broward County Mayor Dale Holness can still shut down businesses and tighten restrictions if they start to see cases going up again.
Will movie theaters, arcades, bowling alleys and playhouses look different in Miami-Dade? What about banquet halls?
All of the entertainment venues that were given the OK to reopen at 50% capacity in Miami-Dade County will be required to enforce face coverings and social distancing measures like all other reopened businesses in the county.
Under Phase 2, this also means you can eat and drink within movie theaters, concert houses, convention spaces, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, casinos, and other indoor amusement facilities, but only in designated areas. In movie theaters, for example, you won’t be allowed to eat popcorn or drink a soda while watching the movie.
Phase 2 also brings back live performances, so you can totally book that band or singer you’ve been eyeing for your party. Just make sure that the performers are no less than 10 feet from others at all times and that everyone is watching the performance while sitting down, according to a county news release.
You can definitely expect to see spaced out seating at movie theaters and playhouses. And banquet halls will also have to follow the same guidelines as hotel banquet halls and convention centers, a county spokeswoman said.
This means you should expect to see the DJ or the band surrounded by a Plexiglass barrier and your waiters and waitresses wearing masks and gloves. No one will be able to eat or drink while standing up, unless you are giving a toast or are speaking behind a podium during a business event, and self-serve buffet-style food service is suspended until further notice, according to the Miami-Dade County New Normal guidelines.
As for social events held at banquet halls, such as weddings and birthday parties, people who live together will be allowed to dance together but the dance floor “may only be occupied by the requisite number of guests to provide for the approved social distancing spacing,” according to the guidelines.
How will playing games at arcades and bowling work? Will some games or lanes be closed to enforce social distancing?
It depends on the business. Since each indoor entertainment venue is unique, each one will have to do whatever is necessary to make sure people stay at least six feet away from each other and that all the other required COVID-19 guidelines are met, according to the county.
Your best best before making plans? Call ahead or check the business website or social media for information.
What’s still closed?
▪ While Florida bars have reopened, a night out drinking isn’t happening in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. If you want to have a drink, some bars in the Keys have reopened.
▪ Partying it up at a Miami Beach or Fort Lauderdale nightclub is still a no-go. Bars, nightclubs and strip clubs will remain closed until further notice in Miami-Dade and Broward County.