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The City of Miami is ordering residents to shelter in place—but what does that mean?

Virginia Gil
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Virginia Gil

On Tuesday evening, March 24, City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez ordered all residents to shelter in place, effective last night at 11:59pm. Similar to Chicago’s “stay-at-home” mandate, Miami’s requires people to stay indoors except for conducting essential business, such as going to the grocery store and picking up medication at a pharmacy. All non-essential travel—be it via public transit or in one’s own vehicle or alternate more of transportation—is absolutely prohibited.

It all seems pretty straight-forward, right? That we should all stay at home unless absolutely necessary? Sort of. Shelter in place doesn’t apply to the entire county so, like, if you live in Miami Beach, you technically don’t have to follow this mandate. But you do have to follow another, very similar order. Confused yet? Let us unpack.

Wasn’t shelter in place already a thing?
Nope, not until last night it wasn’t. You might be thinking about Miami-Dade County’s incremental closures of non-essential businesses and public areas, such as parks, beaches and marinas, and its most recent order to limit gatherings on sidewalks and alleyways to no more than 10 people. This last one by Mayor Carlos Gimenez is what’s threatening the closures of Miami’s ventanitas (fast-forward to the 2:15 mark of the video below). Maybe it’s time to rethink your cafecito break?

So which parts of the city does shelter in place affect?
Only the City of Miami. If you live in other parts of the county, like Coral Gables and Miami Beach, you still need to abide by all recent emergency orders but you won’t need to technically shelter in place at home. There’s a handy zoning map on the City of Miami website that shows you clear city limits. You can even look up your address in case you need to triple-check.

What happens if you don’t follow the order?
Well, you’d be breaking the law. Whether it’s shelter in place or Mayor Gimenez’s emergency mandates, a violation is considered a second-degree misdemeanor and it’s punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500 or both, per Florida Statutes. So maybe don’t break the law this time?

What am I allowed to do?
Exercising outdoors is still allowed, though you still need to practice safe social- distancing, which means staying six feet apart from the people around you. You can still order takeout and curbside pick-up from your favorite Miami restaurants under the latest order, too. 


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