The city of Miami Beach on Saturday declared a state of emergency over spring break crowds that have descended on the popular South Florida destination.
During an afternoon news conference, Mayor Dan Gelber announced an 8 p.m. curfew for the South Beach entertainment district. He also said shore-bound traffic on the city’s causeways would be shuttered.
Both measures will be in effect for at least 72 hours, the mayor said, while extending the emergency is debated by officials.
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“As we hit the peak of the peak of spring break, we are quite simply overwhelmed,” City Manager Raul Aguila said.
Crowds last night resembled those of a rock concert, according to officials.
“You couldn’t see pavement and you couldn’t see grass,” Aguila said.
State figures indicate parts of South Florida have continued to be hot spots for Covid-19 transmission. The state has surpassed 2 million coronavirus cases.
Amid this backdrop, authorities have had to grapple with throngs of college students and young people who have flocked to the warm shores of Miami Beach.
On Thursday night, along the city’s famed Ocean Drive, police used pepper balls in an effort to break up a restaurant brawl, according to NBC South Florida.
Citing the crowds, the Clevelander South Beach hotel said it was temporarily shutting down its bar and restaurant services.
“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 in a statement.
Police Chief Rick Clements said his officers responded to multiple fights on South Beach on Friday night. Tables and chairs were used as impromptu weapons, according to the chief.
During Saturday’s news conference, the mayor blamed some of the crowding on accessible travel.
“There are a lot of cheap flights,” Gelber said. “Last month you could get here from Philadelphia, New York, or Chicago for $50 round trip.”
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