Wynwood tour groups, event spaces brace for Zika impact | Casa Wynwood CEO Christi Tasker Against Government Shutdown & Negative Press for Small Businesses

According to the Miami Herald on AUGUST 3, 2016

Wynwood Tour Groups, Event Spaces Brace For Zika Impact | Casa Wynwood Ceo Christi Tasker Against Government Shutdown &Amp; Negative Press For Small Businesses Christi In The News
Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control inspector Sharon Nagel walks toward a residential area in Miami’s Wynwood district to look for mosquito presence on on Saturday morning, July 30, 2016. She carries a portable chemical sprayer on her back, and has chemical tablets to drop into drains with standing water to combat Zika. On Friday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that the Zika virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes in a one-square-mile area north of downtown Miami. There have been 15 locally transmitted Zika cases – 13 in Miami-Dade, two in Broward. Most of the cases have come from the Wynwood area. MARSHA HALPER mhalper@miamiherald.com

Although no new cases of Zika were reported Wednesday, some Wynwood businesses were rearranging outdoor venues, posting health notices on their Facebook pages or cutting back on tours through the Miami arts neighborhood.

The Miami Tour Company, which offers a “Miami To The Max!” bus tour, canceled its Wynwood art walk portion of the tour Wednesday, “until we hear that they’ve got the situation under control,” said tour director Gus Moore.

When the bus rumbled by its usual 25-minute Wynwood stop, guests laughed, Moore said. Guests have been bringing up Zika concerns for the last six months, he said, but they were worried about the Everglades tour, not Wynwood.

“People were asking about it every week, then every five days, then every three days,” Moore said. “It’s been in the back of people’s minds for a long time.”

Guests were usually calmed by the free insect repellent the company handed out, but after the recent rash of local Zika cases linked to a one-square mile area in Wynwood, the tour bus changed its route and now stops at Virginia Beach at Key Biscayne instead.

“Rather than alienating half of our customers who were too shy or naive to tell us about their concerns, we decided to cut the stop out altogether,” Moore said.

Wynwood Tour Groups, Event Spaces Brace For Zika Impact | Casa Wynwood Ceo Christi Tasker Against Government Shutdown &Amp; Negative Press For Small Businesses Christi In The News

Other tours seem to be employing the “wait and see” strategy.

Wynwood Art Walk tours, another local company, hasn’t changed anything about its tour yet, said manager Anna Vamos.

“The only thing I think we can do is advise our guests to wear insect repellent,” she said.

She posted links to the CDC warning, fact sheets and information on bug spray to the tour group’s Facebook page. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday warned pregnant women to stay away from Wynwood, the first time the federal agency has issued such a warning in the continental United States.

“This might be our new normal in all of South Florida at least for a while,” she wrote.

The tour company hasn’t made a firm decision on whether to change the program, which guides guests on a walking tour of Wynwood. But the two cases reported in Broward County have Vamos leaning toward business-as-usual, at least for everyone who isn’t pregnant.

“Whether you’re in Wynwood or North Miami you could potentially be bitten by a mosquito,” Vamos said. “There’s no reason to panic for the general public.”

The only area with active transmission of the Zika virus is the one-square mile area in Wynwood, according to the Florida Department of Health. Although there were two reported cases in Broward County, health officials said they don’t believe there is active transmission there. One of the two people contracted the virus in the Wynwood area, health officials said.

Wynwood Lab, a luxury art and event space, announced its long security lines will be staffed with extra guards to hasten guests’ time spent outside.

Christi Tasker, co-founder of Wynwood Lab, said several male art collectors postponed their trips over precautions for their girlfriends and partners.

The Miami-Dade County Health Department walked through the property a few times and declared it “larvae-free.” Tasker said the venue dumped all standing water from its fountains and water features. They’ll also cut down on watering the landscape.

“We’re trying to be very careful about any amount of standing water,” she said.

The huge sliding glass doors that separate the indoor gallery space from the courtyard will remain closed, she said. Outside will be protected with a temporary insect repellent fumigation system.

The temporarily closure of the outdoor venue and bar, The Wynwood Yard, extended to Wednesday, the space announced via Facebook.


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