Miami Mayor Threatens Fines Up to $500 for Those Who Don't Wear Masks Amid Florida's COVID Surge

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said Friday people will be fined up to $500 for not wearing a face mask as Florida continues to see a surge in positive novel coronavirus cases.

The mayor announced at a press conference that he will instruct law enforcement officers to stop giving out warnings starting Monday and begin fining people without masks.

A first offense will warrant a $50 fine, a $150 fine will be issued for a second offense, and a third offense will see people get a $500 fine for not wearing a face mask in public.

"By emergency order, facial coverings must be worn in public at all times in the City of Miami until further notice, with limited and specific exceptions. The city may issue noncriminal civil infractions to individuals or properties who violate the face covering order," city officials stated in a newsletter for residents, adding that police may also hand free masks to those who do not have one.

The newsletter also stated that businesses such as retail stores face penalties, including closures, for not following guidelines laid out by health officials.

"Along with putting the onus on individual residents to behave responsibly, we are making clear with this order that our business community must step up and play a leading role in keeping people safe. The majority of local merchants is already doing its part, but only full compliance will help stop the spread of COVID-19 locally," Suarez said in a July 1 announcement.

Businesses that fail to comply with guidelines may face a 10-day closure for a first offense, a 15-day closure for a second offense, and a 30-day closure for a third offense.

"Before reopening, businesses that have been shut down must execute an affidavit -- and submit it to the Miami-Dade County Police Department -- demonstrating that they have reviewed their procedures and taken corrective measures," the July 1 announcement stated.

Suarez said Thursday there is a possibility of another lockdown as cases continue to surge, and met with business owners to get their take on another shutdown.

"I think it's important that we communicate with the business community before making any decisions...If something is not done in the next few weeks to alter our course, we could be in a dire situation," Suarez said.

The Florida Department of Health stated on its website there are now 337,569 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the state, and 4,895 deaths attributed to the virus. The state reported 10,327 new daily cases Saturday.

Newsweek reached out to the Miami mayor's office for comment, but did not receive a response back in time for publication.

Miami Restaurant
A restaurant hostess wears a face mask while standing next to a Social Distance sign on Ocean Drive on July 15, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said people will be fined up to $500 for not wearing a face mask in public. Johnny Louis/Getty