Florida beaches and bars are packed with maskless spring breakers and officials are worried
As the pandemic continues to take lives across the U.S., spring breakers are flocking to Florida, concerning government officials and health experts alike and the mayor of Miami Beach is not cool with all the people flocking to his city right now.
Even after COVID has killed over 520,000 Americans, travel is reaching its highest in months, and many are headed to Florida with little regard for public health and safety. “We are very worried about transmissible variants,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CNN. “A lot of them have come through our travel corridors, so we’re being extra cautious right now with travel.”
— PTZtv (@PTZtv) March 13, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended against all travel for spring break as variants of the virus continue to show up across the U.S. And yet, Florida.
— ABC News (@ABC) March 8, 2021
Florida, a longtime hot spot for spring breakers, still sees over 4,000 new cases of COVID a day, yet Miami tourism officials have spent $5 million on the biggest national advertising campaign in 20 years to get people to come. **Insert face palm emoji here.**
Miami Beach’s mayor, however, is concerned. “We’re seeing too much spring break activity,” Mayor Dan Gelber told CNN Saturday morning. “We’ve got a problem with too many people coming here, we’ve got a problem with too many people coming here to let loose. We are concerned. It’s very challenging.”
This is the type of scene we passed by yesterday in Miami Beach. We saw the servers telling people to put on a mask if they were going to get up and dance, but...it’s a few servers vs. a lot of guests. pic.twitter.com/tNA6o4Wfpe— Natasha Chen (@NatashaChenCNN) March 13, 2021
The city’s message is to “vacation responsibly.” There is a requirement to wear masks in public, but Florida state rules make it impossible for local jurisdictions to fine anyone for not wearing a mask. pic.twitter.com/bmRGGRpc8o— Natasha Chen (@NatashaChenCNN) March 13, 2021
Natasha Chen from CNN posted a lengthy Twitter thread, reporting on some of the highest visited areas like Miami Beach where, even though precautions are being requested, people are not following guidelines. “The city’s message is to ‘vacation responsibly.’ There is a requirement to wear masks in public, but Florida state rules make it impossible for local jurisdictions to fine anyone for not wearing a mask,” she wrote.
“There’s about the same amount of travel now as happened during Thanksgiving,” Walensky added, saying that every time travel increases, so do coronavirus cases.
Florida has no statewide mask mandate, limits on capacity or any other restrictions, but local governments can impose restrictions. The problem is they vary wildly. “Spring break in Miami Beach may be one of the great rites of passage, but only if you plan on following the rules,” Miami Beach City Manager Raul Aguila said. “Otherwise, you might as well just stay home and save yourself the court costs. If you want to party without restrictions, then go somewhere else. Go to Vegas.”
— Lesley Abravanel (@lesleyabravanel) March 14, 2021
Air travel is the highest its been in a year. CNN reports that TSA figures show more than 1.3 million people were screened at airports on Friday as people set out for spring break, and not just in Florida. “If you go outside the clubs, they are packed. I mean, people just congregating, no masks,” Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, told CNN.
In Orlando, Mayor Buddy Dyer asked spring breakers to take precautions to keep everyone safe. “We’ve come a long way as a community in slowing the spread of the virus,” Dyer wrote on Twitter. “As you enjoy our city and our wonderful weather this weekend, continue your pandemic precautions.”
“If there was ever a time to put on the mask, this is it,” National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins told MSNBC Saturday. “Every bit of data proves that mask wearing reduces infections, reduces deaths are we are still seeing 50 to 60,000 cases a day right now…this is the time.”
Based on the pictures coming out of Florida, it doesn’t look like many people are heeding that warning.