The mayor of Miami Beach, Florida has declared a state of emergency, shutting down roads leading into the city and imposing a nightly curfew on the entertainment industry, to stop the “out-of-control” influx of spring breakers.
“As we hit the peak – at the peak of spring break, we are quite simply overwhelmed in the entertainment district,” Interim City Manager Raul J. Aguila told a press conference Saturday.
Folks, this is not an easy decision to make, we are doing that to protect the public health and safety.
Mayor Dan Gelber signed an emergency declaration, shutting down bars and restaurants in the South Beach district – the so-called ‘High Impact Zone’ – which will last for 72 hours starting at 8pm Saturday.
City of Miami Beach Announces 8 p.m. Curfew in High Impact Zone Starting Tonight — Officials Also Impose Additional Spring Break Emergency Measures pic.twitter.com/3lmt3FsbJw
— #MaskUpMiamiBeach (@MiamiBeachNews) March 20, 2021
In addition, to reduce the influx of spring break visitors, the Julia Tuttle, Venetian, and MacArthur causeways have been closed from 9pm to 5am for non-local traffic.
“We’ve got too many people and too many looking to act out while there’s a pandemic going on,” Gelber told USA Today.
Massive crowds of college students and other vacationers on spring break have flocked to Florida in recent weeks, largely ignoring Covid-19 social-distancing guidelines. Photos and videos shared on social media show Miami’s beaches jammed with people, none of whom appear to be wearing a mask.
Miami Beach Police Chief Rick Clements said on Saturday that despite a recently implemented “no-tolerance policy” and increased patrols, the crowds were simply “out of control.”
Around 100 people were arrested last weekend alone, including for drug and weapons offenses, while police issued more than 900 citations and seized at least 13 guns. At least three dozen more arrests were reported since then.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has touted his state’s success in keeping businesses and schools open during the pandemic while keeping Covid-19 case and death rates comparable to those of states with strict lockdown measures, such as California. DeSantis not only hasn’t imposed a statewide mask mandate, but also banned cities and counties from punishing those flouting the regulations or refusing to wear a mask.