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South Florida Counties Coordinate On 'New Normal Initiative' To Restart Activities

Children play outdoors in a common area at a Miami high-rise condo. Officials from throughout South Florida are discussing when and how to re-open outdoor spaces like parks and beaches.
Lynne Sladky
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The four South Florida counties are coordinating on a plan for phased re-opening of outdoor spaces, retail and hotels. It's called the new normal initiative.

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Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi told the Monroe County Commission Wednesday that the group was convened by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

"The goal is to start talking about a phased approach to get back to the new normal, because I think it is going to be a new normal," he said.

Outdoor spaces include parks, marinas, golf courses and beaches.

"Tennis is probably OK if we put some social distancing directives in there but basketball's probably not going to be OK for awhile. That's just kind of an example," Gastesi said.

The group plans to have recommendations ready on Friday, Gastesi said.

"We can start opening up some of these businesses, some of these recreational areas," he said. Retail and hotels will be discussed this week, he said.

And while all four counties are coordinating, Gastesi said they won't act in lockstep - and that the checkpoint at the Monroe County line will remain.

"We're going to be the last ones to open up. We want to see a clean mainland before we open up the checkpoint, no doubt," he said. "We're doing so well down here, because of the checkpoint."

Only Keys residents, property owners, workers and deliveries are allowed past the checkpoint at the county line on the 18 Mile Stretch of U.S. 1 and Card Sound Road.

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Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.