Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced late Saturday that all boat ramps and marinas in the county parks would close until further notice, and that the Miami-Dade Police Department would be ramping up enforcement to keep group parties out of the water.
The announcement came after the Miami Herald reported Saturday that the area on the bay side of the inlet at Haulover was crowded with boats tied together and hordes of people standing in close proximity of the sandbar, which is a popular destination for boaters north of Miami Beach.
The throng of people violates recommendations from the state and federal governments that groups of 10 or more disperse to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
South Florida has emerged as a hotspot for positive cases of the virus statewide. Miami-Dade County was reporting 169 cases Saturday night, more than any other county.
“I am disappointed to see photos and videos on social media of boats close together and large groups of people congregating,” Gimenez wrote in a statement. “To see this ‘sandbar party’ flier circulating all over South Florida is truly disheartening, but mostly worrisome.”
Gimenez noted the current guidelines that call for limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer, saying the actions are critical to “defeat COVID-19.”
“Those of you not following these guidelines are putting others at risk, perhaps your own family and friends,” he wrote. “You could be contributing to a much longer scenario and further shutdowns in our community.”
On Sunday, the “2020 Sandbar Boat and Jetski Party,” was supposed to take place, according to a flier that had been circulating the internet.
The host, a man who calls himself “Nava,” posted on Instagram Saturday to announce the party would be postponed.
“The sandbar is like, limited,” he said. “So that’s like first come first serve … and we go off the chain. That s—’s going to be embarrassing if we’re vibing and they come in and say we’ve got to go.”
Despite the official party being canceled, the sandbar was still chock full of boaters Sunday.
Jose Vega, an Aventura man who runs a food boat that services the sandbar, said that’s because there are plenty of boaters who either don’t fall into the exceptions the mayor outlined in his order (like those that launch their boats from home) or don’t care. Read more: