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Miami Beach Commission Urged To Open Beach To Residents, Get Small Businesses Back To Work

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - With Miami Beach's beaches closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, residents are getting a little anxious to get back on the sand.

During a virtual city commission meeting on Wednesday, people urged the commission to re-open the beach, even if it's just to residents.

"We should be able, some way, to open up the beaches to Miami Beach residents. It's very important for residents to get outside and exercise while maintaining social distancing," Miami Beach resident "Rich" told the commissioners. "Even if on the beach there is no sitting, no sunbathing, just moving around and exercising will go a long way. We should not have to wait two months for that."

Others urged city leaders to do something to get small businesses back to work.

"You want to keep the beach closed, I respect that. You want to open partial things, go ahead, but you can't keep small businesses closed. You have to give people some hope to stay alive," said small business owner Eyal Anavim. "You have to help the small businesses open. It can not continue like this."

Business owners and city leaders alike are anxious to get the economy here moving again.

"It's not going to be like recovering from anything we've ever seen. This could take years," said David Wallack who owns Mango's Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive.

He's watching closely as the city works on a re-opening framework. He knows for the hospitality industry there are rough days ahead.

"Who's going to be flying in from Europe, who's going to be flying in from the Northeast and New York. Nobody. In essence, we are living in a very science fiction movie you might say," he said.

Wallack said any kind of re-opening has to happen in phases that are clearly spelled out so business owners know what to expect and employees know when they can go back to work. He expects initially his staff of 250 will be reduced to about 50 people.

"We have tens of thousands of employees right now unemployed. And if we don't get them back to work within a reasonable time, they're going to leave for Atlanta, for whoever is open, where they can make a living for their families" he said.

Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach counties are already looking toward the future to see what re-opening plans may look like. They agree it should happen in phases, beginning with limited openings of parks, marinas, and golf courses so people can get fresh air and exercise. No dates are set yet.

At the virtual meeting, the commission did not talk much about what a re-opening could look like. They're expecting to see a plan at the end of the week.

"I think we need to think about reopening but I also think we need to think about the new normal. It's not an event, it's a process that's going to last for months," said Commissioner Mark Samuelian.

Next Friday, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales is expected to unveil a framework of what a gradual or phased re-opening could look like.

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