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The Wharf Fort Lauderdale Voluntarily Closes After Broward County Officials Determined COVID Protocols Were Broken

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Wharf Fort Lauderdale has announced it will be temporarily closing.

It had been closed for more than half the year due to the pandemic, before reopening this past Friday.

However, video from the weekend posted on social media appears to show crowding at the bar, people without masks and no social distancing.

"The city was there with its inspectors. The county was there with their own, and the county ultimately made the determination that it cannot remain open because the protocols were not being followed," explains Mayor Dean Trantalis of the City of Fort Lauderdale.

"They gave [the Wharf] 24 hours notice, saying you can reopen in 24 hours or when you are able to comply. So really the ball is in their court right now," he says.

According to the city's "new normal" guidelines, restaurants are allowed to open to 100% capacity with masks and distancing. Bars are allowed to open to 50% capacity inside, and 100% outside, again, as long as the other precautions remain in order.

Mayor Trantalis says, while the outdoor venue has plenty of space to allow for safe distancing, too many people crowded around the bar.

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Newly-appointed Broward County Mayor Steve Geller says the Wharf received three citations Saturday and will have to pay a fine. He did not know the amount.

"If we want to avoid closing down businesses, which I desperately want to avoid doing, then we have to enforce mask wearing," Geller says. "That's our goal: compliance with wearing masks, not closing businesses."

He says he would have liked to see more people monitoring at the venue to prevent crowds from forming and enforcing the wearing of masks.

"If they had publicly removed five or 10 or 20 people, that probably would've gotten the message through to the others," Mayor Geller says.

In a tweet, The Wharf said it was shutting down due to local regulations and rising COVID cases.

No reopening date was given, saying only that "we'll reopen when we're able to provide the proper experience for you at our beautiful outdoor venue."


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