Curfews issued in 7 Miami-Dade cities and Broward County as Irma nears

Photos: Outer bands of of Hurricane Irma reach South Florida

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Curfews are being issued across South Florida as the region prepares to clear roads ahead of Hurricane Irma: 8 p.m. for portions of Coral Gables, 10 p.m. in North Miami, 8 p.m. in Homestead, 7 p.m. in Key Biscayne, 8 p.m. in North Miami Beach, 4 p.m. in Broward County, 7 p.m. in the city of Miami and 8 p.m. in Miami Beach.

Coral Gables said it would start a curfew at 8 p.m. for portions of the city until 7 a.m. Sunday. Unlike other curfews in the county, the Coral Gables curfew only applies to areas covered by a mandatory evacuation order from the county targeting storm-surge-prone areas ahead of the hurricane.

North Miami issued a curfew starting 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Sunday, prohibiting people from traveling outside by car or foot, according to a statement from city manager Larry Spring, Jr.

Homestead announced it would start a curfew at 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Sunday, excepting those with a “valid emergency purpose for being outside,” Homestead spokesperson Zackery Good said.

"Issuing this curfew allows the City of Homestead and Homestead Police Department to adequately protect the safety of residents and property," he added. "The City of Homestead continues to monitor the progress of Hurricane Irma and urges all residents to remain cautious even though forecasts are improving.”

Key Biscayne issued a curfew starting 7 p.m. through 7 a.m. Sunday and is closing access until further notice, according to a statement.

North Miami Beach is also instituting a curfew starting at 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. Sunday, city manager Ana Garcia said, though she added the curfew may be extended to 11 a.m. or noon depending on storm conditions.

Broward County started enforcing a curfew at 4 p.m. Saturday, which will remain in effect “until further notice,” according to a tweet from the county’s emergency management division.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado told the Herald he planned to announce the city would impose a Saturday curfew starting at 7 p.m.

Miami Beach, which is under a mandatory evacuation order, will issue a curfew starting at 8 p.m. Saturday through 7 a.m. Sunday, according to a statement from the city. Essential services such as fire, police and hospital services are exempt from the curfew.

But Miami-Dade County is opting not to impose a curfew Saturday, Mayor Carlos Gimenez told reporters Saturday morning.

“We have police officers on the road at this time. We may experience some hurricane-strength winds,” he said. Curfews are usually put in place after a storm, “when you suffer a number of power outages, etc. I'm not going to second-guess what Broward County is doing. But that's not something I'm thinking of doing right now.”

Gimenez has faced criticism for the county's slow pace in opening shelters, and for logistical problems in staffing and operating them. Miami-Dade had 41 shelters open on Saturday, and 11 were full. About 26,000 people were listed as being inside in response to an unprecedented evacuation order that impacted more than 600,000 Miami-Dade residents.

At his Saturday briefing, Gimenez announced the county's lone shelter for people with special medical needs — whose location is only revealed to people who register in advance — was full. “If you have an emergency,” he said, “call 911.”

Even as he declined to order residents off of the roads as Irma is forecast to head for Florida's west coast instead of Miami, Gimenez warned against taking the storm lightly. He noted his home, in the Coconut Grove area, has already lost power and suffered a downed tree.

“There have been some rumors about Miami-Dade being in the clear and being safe from a hit by Hurricane Irma because we're no longer in the cone,” Gimenez said. “We must remain vigilant. A very serious storm is coming our way, and will be here through Sunday.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, cautioned against deciding a different track from Irma will spare the region from dangerous winds.

“Don't be the guy killed by a tree,” he said.

Miami Herald staff writers Lance Dixon and Monique O. Madan contributed to this report.