KEY WEST, FL (Monroe County) - According to an arrest report article posted on local10.com, the Key West restaurant owner was placed under arrest for refusing to close after curfew. Law enforcement officers were stepping up their law enforcement efforts over the long holiday weekend. According to one restaurateur, he and his supportive patron elected to protest the curfew leading to 16 people being arrested by a SWAT team in Key West, Florida.
According to the news report, a team of law enforcement officers including, one SWAT team, code enforcement officers, and police officers with long guns, swarmed a local restaurant on popular Duval Street in Key West. The group was enforcing a 10 p.m. curfew during the New Year's holiday weekend.
A Key West restaurateur embraced the New Year in jail. The restaurateur stated that he was hoping for a happier New Year. The restaurateur stated that the group of law enforcement officials came on to his property, ordered his staff to collect payment for any outstanding bills, and then ordered all of the restaurant's customers to leave, they would be arrested.
The restaurant owner stated that he knew of the city's curfew. However, he decided to keep his restaurant open nevertheless, explaining that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' executive order limited local government officials from imposing COVID-19 separate restrictions on businesses. The restaurant owner stated that we prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and they received a little of both.
The Key West City Manager, Greg Veliz, stated the reasons why the local curfew may be enforced. He stated that the city's right to initiate a curfew had been upheld in federal court, and this should dispel any of the reports that we did not have the right to initiate a curfew.
Although the curfew isn't in effect anymore, opponents of the local curfew ordinances like the restaurant owner state that they are worried. He is concerned that these curfews will be used every weekend. His concern was that Key West would soon develop a reputation of not being a fun place to visit, and tourism and businesses would suffer as a result.
The City of Key West is planning to have committee meetings to discuss the results and to determine if more COVID-19 restrictions such as curfews will be needed in the future.
Curfew Laws and Regulations
The following two statutes summarize the State of Florida's authority to initiate quarantine and isolation orders within Florida's borders, including the authority to create and enforce quarantine and isolation orders, clarifies limitations on state quarantine powers, and provides the penalties for violations.
Under Florida Statutes Section 252.50 failure to obey an Emergency Order(s), law enforcement officers may arrest and charge violators of quarantine or curfews as a second-degree misdemeanor. The regulations also fall under Florida Statute § 381.0011 (2012) and Florida Statute § 381.00315 (2012).