The city of Miami Beach is imposing nighttime curfews and street closures in some of its most heavily trafficked areas Saturday evening under a declaration of a state of emergency to disperse dangerous crowds of rowdy spring break revelers.
The city is telling people to stay out of its entertainment district starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, and it will only allow residents, workers and hotel guests to drive into the city on major roads overnight under the state of emergency orders, which are set to last at least 72 hours.
These measures come after raucous vacationers flooded the city’s streets over the last week, a situation Mayor Dan Gelber described as a “level of siege.”
Many out-of-state tourists “seem to have forgotten that there’s a pandemic,” Gelber said earlier this week, forming tight and largely maskless crowds.
“It feels like a rock concert. Wall-to-wall people over blocks and blocks,” Gelber told CNN. “It feels like any match could set it off, and we don’t want to wait to take these kinds of actions in the wake of a tremendous tragedy.”
Spring break crowds are commonplace for Miami Beach, but city officials say this season has been unusually chaotic. Gelber thinks his city has attracted abnormally large crowds this year because Covid-19 restrictions shut down many other vacation destinations.
The Clevelander Hotel, a popular South Beach destination, shut down its restaurant until the end of spring break season Friday, citing fears about employees’ safety.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis eliminated all coronavirus-related fines in the state last week, but Miami Beach vowed to continue fining anybody caught violating mask mandates.