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Hialeah Restaurant Opens To Indoor Dining 5 Days Ahead Of County Order

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - A Hialeah restaurant has reopened to indoor dining five days before the county is allowing Miami-Dade restaurants to do that.

Miami-Dade Police say any restaurant that returns to indoor dining before Monday is running the risk of being cited and fined up to $500 and being closed down. Police have been on patrol for violators.

CBS4'S Peter D'Oench discovered diners having lunch at tables inside the Cuban Guys restaurant and sandwich shop at 3174 West 76th St. just one day after Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez announced that his city would no longer enforce the countywide ban on indoor dining.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Miami-Dade restaurants would be allowed to return to indoor dining next Monday with restrictions but Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez took issue with Gimenez on Wednesday, telling CBS4'S Peter D'Oench "Why wait until Monday when you have many people going to Broward County. So If I forced the issue and he is mad, it's his problem. He never had any scientific evidence that restaurants caused an increase in the Coronavirus and it was proven in Broward County where they did not close the restaurants and their numbers with the Coronavirus went down."

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told CBS4 "I was never in favor of closing indoor dining. I never saw any evidence that tied indoor dining to an increase in cases."

Mayor Gimenez has said he was following medical guidelines and on Tuesday he told CBS4, "If the Hialeah Mayor decides he is not going to enforce the county rules the county will be enforcing the rules. The county has jurisdiction everywhere."

Inside the Cuban Guys restaurant, manager Crystal Sosa said she was given the green light by management to reopen indoor dining.

"Business has been slow and this will be good to get the restaurant back on track," she said. "We have been social distancing 6 feet apart and sanitizing everything and we are doing everything we can to make all of our customers crazy."

As he savored his salad with a chicken breast, Alexis Martinez said he was grateful to no longer be dining outdoors in South Florida's heat and humidity.

"It is way too hot," he said. "In the evening it is nice outside. But most times the humidity is way too high high. You have a mask on and I do not feel I am going to get anything. I stay separate from other people."

Kevin Bennett, a visiting businessman from Central Florida who was also dining inside, said there were business benefits to doing that.

"A lot of business people do their business while sitting down at restaurants and this is exactly what I am doing here so I think it is a good thing for restauranteurs and business people."

Most Hialeah restaurant owners who D'Oench spoke with said they did not want to take any chances and risk being fined and planned to not return to indoor dining until Monday.

Jesus Ovidez says for 42 years he has been the owner of Chico's restaurant at 4070 West 12th Avenue and says "I don't want to take any chances and risk a county fine. I think Monday is a good day for everybody to go back. Plus I don't have the employees ready to reopen. I am going to reopen indoor dining at 5 a.m. on Monday."

Under the restrictions, customers will have to wear masks until they are served. The air conditioning will have to remain on and windows and doors must remain open. Restaurants will operate at 50% capacity with groups of no more than six people at a table. They will still have to close by 10 p.m. but that could change after Labor Day.

Mayor Gimenez said he was encouraged by a drop in the Coronavirus positivity rate and the number of people being hospitalized.

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