MIAMI BEACH, FL — Having bounced back from multiple hurricanes, 9/11, the Great Recession, and the mosquito-borne Zika illness, Miami Beach city officials have taken the wraps off what is believed to be a first-in-the-nation business health campaign intended to restore public confidence in eating out and visiting small businesses.
“Our customers and our community feeling comfortable with our establishments are going to be the key to bringing back our economy,” Amy Mehu, the city’s assistant director of economic development, told the news outlets.
The urban resort city allowed its many casual eateries, fine dining establishments, and trendy sidewalk cafes to reopen Wednesday. But unlike other cities around the United States, Miami Beach officials said they will follow up the opening with a new program that places a spotlight on businesses willing to go above and beyond the social distancing requirements that have become commonplace in Florida and elsewhere.
“The ability of them to reopen is only a small fraction of it,” Mehu insisted. “The customers feeling comfortable to come back — and come back in numbers to support that economy, our economy — that’s the key.”
The Miami Beach initiative, called the MB Standard program, requires businesses to sign a legal document stating they will abide by a series of coronavirus-related health precautions for employees, including monthly testing.
“We want to take those extra measures to make sure that not only our customers and our employees that are here are safe, but when they are going back home, that they are keeping their community safe,” Mehu said. “We establish that higher standard and that higher bar, and we’re taking measures that help to ensure that safety.”
Businesses that participate in the voluntary program will be recognized for their effort with a special decal that will be placed at the entrance to their business next to the usual decals customers are accustomed to seeing from organizations, such as Zagat in the case of restaurants.
To be admitted to the program, businesses must agree to have all employees tested for the coronavirus by June 8, or the date of reopening, whichever is later. They must be retested every month.
All employees must also undergo daily temperature checks and verbal health screenings where they are asked if they’ve come in contact with anyone suffering from the coronavirus or if they are experiencing any symptoms of the virus.
In addition, participating businesses must have a contact tracing procedure in place and they must agree to send monthly coronavirus testing reports to the city.
“We don’t need the employee names and where they live,” Mehu said. “We just need to know you had two negatives and five positives. For the five positives, this is how we dealt with it.”
The testing can be performed at any of the free public sites, or businesses can make their own arrangements. Antibody tests are not accepted.