A showdown appears to be imminent between government officials in Broward County.
Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis added gyms and fitness centers to phase one of the state’s reopening plan at 50 percent capacity, which Broward joins on Monday.
However, Broward has decided to keep gyms closed, while Fort Lauderdale plans to allow such businesses within their city limits to open.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis signed an executive order Saturday that allows gyms and fitness centers to reopen. He adds that neighboring cities, including Pompano Beach, Coral Springs and Margate, plan to do the same.
On Sunday, Broward Vice Mayor Steve Geller warned those moves could lead to legal action, since the county has already issued an emergency order that had excluded gyms from Monday’s reopening.
“The cities simply do not have the authority to ignore a county order,” Geller says. “If cities ignore the county, we’re heading to a showdown between the cities and the county. It could end up in court.”
He adds that the county could also ask Sheriff Gregory Tony to have deputies shut down any gyms that open.
Phase 1 reopening of #BrowardCounty begins Monday, May 18th. Beaches will remain closed, per Emergency Order 20-10. Facial coverings and social distancing still required. https://t.co/amWUk7ovX3 pic.twitter.com/VFU2cJgGEk
— Broward County Government (@BrowardCounty) May 14, 2020
On Sunday, Trantalis accused the county of coming up with “an 11th hour order” that challenges the state’s intention to reopen gyms.
“We’re just following the governor’s order,” Trantalis explains.
Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Steve Glassman favors “home rule” for reopening such venues.
“It’s not like people in Tamarac are going to flood Fort Lauderdale gyms.” Glassman argues. “Fort Lauderdale is doing the right thing.”
He says regarding the idea of deputies being sent to close gyms, “It would be absurd for the county to take it to that level. They want to get into a gym war. If they think it’s worth their resources to send in a deputy to close down a small dance studio, what kind of leadership is that?”
Geller says that county officials need to develop a list of safety guidelines before allowing gyms to reopen.
“I don’t think the county can keep the gyms closed forever,” Geller says. “But we have to have the guidelines before they open. I don’t want them opened without those guidelines. And it cannot be done on a city-by-city basis. It’s too confusing and they don’t have that authority.”
This is a developing story.