Struggling Broward Business Owners Hope Officials Will Meet Them Halfway
Broward County, Florida – Michael Verdugo says it’s been a tough couple of months at his gym Bodytek Fitness.
But, he says this past week has been the toughest.
“No one could work out today because we got shut down,” Verdugo said.
Verdugo says code enforcement officers showed up to his gym three times this week. On Thursday, officers shut the gym down after they warned the gym owner on Tuesday and Wednesday about patrons not wearing facial coverings properly or not at all.
“The class was going on,” Verdugo told NBC 6. “They found someone who pulled their mask down to breathe for a sec, and they caught us.”
Code enforcement officers with the Wilton Manors Police Department said they’ve observed several patrons at the gym not wearing masks, and the city also received an anonymous complaint about the lack of masks, according to a series of emails the department provided to NBC.
About 30 minutes away in Coral Springs, the owner of Runyon’s Restaurant, Kevin O’Connor, is feeling a similar pressure under the county’s 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants.
“It’s hurting,” O’Connor said. “It’s hurting bad … At 9:45, I’m chasing 20 or 30 or 40 guests out of the building because I have to be empty by 10 p.m., and it’s killing us.”
O’Connor sent a letter to county officials asking that the curfew be extended to 11 or 11:30 p.m., allowing for more customers and more profit.
“That little bit of easement on that curfew would truly make the difference of us being able to survive this thing,” he said.
County Mayor Dale Holness held a news conference Friday addressing the 10 p.m. curfew and the concerns of business owners struggling to stay afloat.
“I’m about economic development and growth,” Holness said. “I have a lot of folks who are out of work. I don’t want to see people out of work, but at the same time, we got to look to save people’s lives. And further if we continue to see this trend at this level and we’re not able to fully open, it means we’re hurt even longer economically.”