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Broward Extends Curfew; Deputies Crack Down on “Roving Car Clubs”

Virus Outbreak Florida
People cycle and walk pandemic, Broward County. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

If you live work or play in Broward County, officials have some news for you.

The county’s nighttime curfew has been extended, they announced Wednesday.

However, residents will no longer be legally responsible for making sure their guests wear masks.

The changes came in an order signed by County Administrator Bertha Henry.

It extends the county’s curfew, which runs from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily, through at least this Monday.

The curfew, which was imposed two weeks ago, was originally set to expire on Saturday.

Broward Mayor Dale Holness said it could be extended further, although there is no consensus on how long to extend it.

The curfew is “something we believe has worked for us in reducing the number of parties that were happening overnight,” Holness said. “As a result of actions that we’ve taken, we’ve seen some leveling off of the spread of the virus.”

In addition, Broward’s mask mandate remains in effect, albeit with a slight change.

The new order clarifies that residents are not required to wear the coverings inside their homes, nor are they responsible for making their guests wear masks.

State rules still prevent gatherings of more than 10 people if they are not from the same family, but guests are now responsible for wearing masks if social distancing is not possible.

The policy change came days after a Broward County resident sued the county over the provision that made people responsible for their guests’ behavior.

That lawsuit claimed that the requirement violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

Violators of the mandate were subject to civil and criminal penalties, including a $1,000 fine for each violation.

In another change announced Wednesday, rules for safety signs in English, Creole and Spanish also will now apply to all businesses, rather than just to restaurants and retail shops.

On a related note, a recent crackdown by the Broward Sheriff’s Office on parties and “roving car clubs” is helping to curb violence and the local spread of the virus, according to Sheriff Gregory Tony.

“Two weeks ago, we launched an enforcement operation which was twofold,” he said. “One, reducing the large parties that were occurring where we had got to the point where 1,100-plus calls for service had come in through the Sheriff’s Office related to these parties.”

The efforts also targeted what Tony referred to as “roving car clubs,” where groups of people would drive 20 and 40 cars through the county and congregate for parties. Some of those events would end in violence, he adds.

Deputies responded to and broke up 13 gatherings; issued 260 citations; arrested 25 people on charges such as grand theft and driving under the influence; and seized three guns. Sheriff Tony said all of the incidents were resolved without violence.

He added that the enforcement operations will continue for the time being.

The Florida Department of Health reported Wednesday that Broward has 52,970 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 638 deaths.