Miami Enforces Curfew After Spring Breakers Go Crazy

Tanya Simon
March 22, 2021

Miami Beach, Florida, city leaders voted Sunday to extend emergency restrictions because of out-of-control spring break crowds that local officials believe are made up of more than just typical college students.

Tourists and hotel guests are being told to stay indoors during curfew hours.

"We will be calling a special commission meeting to discuss these measures and decide whether we want to keep them, modify them or adopt additional measures after 72 hours", Aguila said.

Local officials enforced the curfew after mass fighting and a rise in crime among the mass of spring breakers who are also defying coronavirus-safety protocols, they said.

Miami Beach's police chief said he's reviewing why pepper balls were used, but said, predictably, 'I think officers felt threatened'.

A restaurant brawl on the city's Ocean Drive on Thursday prompted police to use pepper balls in order to break it up, NBC reported.

Video and photos posted on social media showed thousands of spring breakers, many eager to let off steam after a year of Covid-19 lockdowns, packed together and dancing in the streets as police struggled to enforce the curfew.

Police say they arrested "at least a dozen" people for violating the state of emergency on Saturday night.

A military-style vehicle was seen rolling down the palm-tree lined Ocean Drive as outnumbered Miami Beach police officers struggled to disperse the raucous crowds Saturday.

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He added that police had hoped it was a one-time event but "last night we had three of those situations and we had a young lady that got hurt as a result of trying to run away from a crowd".

"I think officers felt threatened at the time", the chief said.

That sentiment is not shared by local officials.

That includes the Clevelander in South Beach, announcing it would stop its food and beverage operations until Wednesday at the least. Florida has no statewide mask rules, limits on capacity or other such restrictions, courtesy of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' pro-business stance.

Tourism is the Sunshine State's No. 1 industry, generating more than $91 billion in 2018, and previous year spring break was one of the first big casualties of the pandemic as beaches shut down across Florida when the US went into strict lockdowns.

Miami tourism officials say billions of dollars were lost when the pandemic first erupted past year, cancelling spring break and forcing beach closures across the Sunshine State.

Officials also restricted eastbound traffic on the three main causeways connecting the city with downtown Miami.

Miami Beach, meanwhile, banned alcohol from the beach, along with all alcohol sales after 10 p.m., and even sent text messages to tourists warning, "Vacation Responsibly or Be Arrested".

Gelber said the mass crowds gathered at a time when the surrounding county was experiencing 1,000 new infections of COVID-19 each day and with 50 to 100 people being hospitalized each day.

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