COVID-19 has brought many changes to our daily lives. Some we have accepted with open arms and some we have not.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the cooperation between government entities and the relationships between its individual officers have been tested.
Over the last few days, concerned Gables resident Jack Thompson initiated correspondence with the County copying local officials and media. Thompson is frustrated that Coral Gables has only issued one citation for defying the county mask ordinance and wants to avoid further economic and health implications because of local government looking the other way.
Miami-Dade County was made aware of the City of Coral Gables mask order from July 2nd, where the City describes walking as “strenuous activity,” which makes Coral Gables’ order more lenient than the County’s.
The County reached out to the City and asked for an immediate correction to the City’s order.
When asked if the City has to abide by the request, County Deputy Mayor Jennifer Moon, replied: “They must. They cannot have a rule that is less stringent than what the County has. Yesterday, our Board of County Commissioners adopted an ordinance creating a civil citation with a fine of $100 if a person isn’t wearing a mask as required.”
In an email exchange, Coral Gables City Attorney Miriam Ramos made it clear the City has no intention to change its order: “To be clear, the City’s mask order is consistent with the County’s. As you know, the County’s most recent amended Emergency Order related to masks exempts the use of masks when an individual is engaged in “strenuous physical activity.” The City’s order simply provides some examples of what “strenuous physical activity” might be and one of the examples is “walking for exercise.” Whether someone is walking for exercise versus walking in a leisurely fashion is certainly up to interpretation, which is ultimately a determination made by the enforcement entity based on the particular facts and circumstances of that encounter.”
The City Attorney claims the issue is up to “interpretation” on the definition of strenuous activity. Generally, the medical community does not consider walking a strenuous activity. Following surgery, most patients are encouraged to stay away from strenuous activity, but are encouraged to walk. This is how WebMd describes a list of strenuous activities “Strenuous activities included swimming laps, aerobics, calisthenics, running, jogging, basketball, cycling on hills, and racquetball.” Walking did not make their list.
Is walking in Coral Gables more strenuous? Arguably not more strenuous than visiting a theme park, and all theme parks currently require that all visitors and staff wear masks at all times within their parks.
The next question will be how the City will enforce the County’s $100 fine for not wearing a mask, passed by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners this week.
Ramos stated, “Given the action taken by the BCC yesterday with regard to civil citations and the corresponding fine amount, the City will be looking at the fine amounts in its orders in order to determine whether an amendment is necessary.”
Thompson has written a letter to the board of County Commissioners about his concerns and has asked to speak before the board at their August meeting.
Local Government insiders tell Gables Insider that unless a serious mask enforcement takes place or hospital numbers starts to decrease, we can expect a full shut-down once again within a week to two weeks time.
PSA: WEAR YOUR MASK!