Miami Beach declares state of emergency over spring break

Mar 21, 2021

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While coronavirus cases are trending downward overall as the vaccine rollout picks up speed, the threat of COVID-19 is still very real.

The city of Miami Beach on Saturday declared a state of emergency in an effort to control “larger than expected” spring break crowds. There’s now an 8 p.m. curfew in South Beach’s entertainment district and most eastbound traffic to the city will be blocked.

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The curfew requires all restaurants, bars and businesses to close by 8 p.m. Shore-bound traffic on three causeways is being shuttered from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., with some exceptions for residents and hotel guests. The iconic Ocean Drive is being closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic starting at 8 p.m., except for residents, hotel guests and business employees. The emergency orders will be in effect through at least Wednesday evening.

“As we hit the peak of the peak of spring break, we are quite simply overwhelmed,” city manager Raul Aguila said.

Mayor Dan Gelber blamed some of the crowding on cheap flights: “Last month you could get here from Philadelphia, New York, or Chicago for $50 round trip.”

Videos shared on social media showed SWAT teams moving in to disperse crowds who stayed out past the curfew Saturday evening and even resorting to using pepper balls in some situations.

Related: Texas and Mississippi lift most COVID-19 restrictions

 

In addition to having a surge in visitors, Florida has also been the epicenter for the more-easily spread variant of COVID-19 that was first found in the U.K. The state surpassed 2 million coronavirus cases on Saturday. Meanwhile, states like Texas and Mississippi have recently lifted most COVID-19 restrictions and mask mandates.

Featured photo by Pola Damonte/Getty Images

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