‘The result has been a level of chaos and disorder that is just something more than we can endure,’ the mayor said
Officials in Miami Beach have imposed an emergency curfew, effective immediately, after the city’s bars, restaurants, and streets have become overrun with spring breakers gathering in the thousands without masks or social distancing, many fighting in the streets and trashing restaurants.
At a news conference, officials said the crowds were out of control and that there’s no way local law enforcement can keep up with arrests. The curfew will be in effect from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. for at least the next several nights. No people or vehicles will be allowed to enter the restricted area after 8 p.m. and all businesses must close, interim city manager Raul Aguila said. This impacts many popular areas in South Beach including all businesses on Ocean Drive, Washington Avenue, Collins Avenue, and Española Way.
Aguila told the Miami Herald he recommends keeping the rules in place through at least April 12.
“Too many are coming, really, without the intention of following the rules, and the result has been a level of chaos and disorder that is just something more than we can endure,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told CNN‘s Ana Cabrera. “Other things have happened that are similarly challenging, and so it feels like a tinder, it feels like just any match could set it off.”
The popular Clevelander South Beach announced it was temporarily suspending all food and beverage operations until at least March 24.
“Recently, we have grown increasingly concerned with the safety of our dedicated employees and valued customers and the ability of the City to maintain a safe environment in the surrounding area,” the hotel said on its website. “Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily close the food and beverage operations” until at least March 24.
“These crowds are in the thousands,” Aguila said. “We’re at capacity.”
Local officials have tried other methods to keep spring breakers to adhere to city rules on masks and social distancing. They have banned alcohol from the beach, along with all alcohol sales after 10 p.m.
They have also sent cellphone text messages to tourists warning that reads, “Vacation Responsibly or Be Arrested.”
“Spring break in Miami Beach may be one of the great rites of passage, but only if you plan on following the rules. Otherwise, you might as well just stay home and save yourself the court costs,” the text messages also reads.
But local officials have struggled because of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pro-business stance and no statewide mask mandate, leaving it up to local counties to try to enforce statewide mask rules to help the spread of COVID.
“We are in an oasis of freedom,” DeSantis said at this year’s CPAC conference, “in a nation that’s suffering from the yoke of oppressive lockdowns.”
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