Party's over: Miami Beach imposing curfew for spring break after widespread disorder
Miami Beach, Florida - Due to overwhelming spring break crowds, the Florida city of Miami Beach will impose an 8 PM curfew in the South Beach entertainment district and block most eastbound traffic entering the city after 10 PM beginning from Saturday.
Interim City Manager Raul Aguila, who will authorize the emergency measures, told the Miami Herald that he recommends keeping them in place through April 12, or the end of spring break. A countywide midnight curfew is already in place due to Covid-19.
"These crowds are in the thousands," he said. "We're at capacity."
Police will enforce the 8 pm curfew by blockading South Beach's main party strips – Ocean Drive, Washington Avenue and Collins Avenue - from Fifth to 15th streets. No pedestrians or vehicles will be allowed to enter after 8 PM and all businesses in the restricted area will be forced to close, Aguila said.
Beginning at 10 PM on Saturday and extending until 5 AM, Aguila said, the city will also close the eastbound lanes of the three main causeways that connect Greater Miami to Miami Beach – the MacArthur, Julia Tuttle and Venetian causeways. There will be a dedicated lane for Beach residents, hotel guests or people who need to go to work, Aguila said.
"I'm concerned for the public safety, I'm concerned that there may be damage to personal property," Aguila said.
Curfew could be extended
The measures follow weeks of confrontations between police and large crowds, fights and occasional bouts of violence, including a deadly shooting. Mayor Dan Gelber and public health officials have also warned about the risks of spreading Covid-19 among the throngs of visitors crowding the city.
For now, the measures are temporary. The city charter authorizes Aguila to impose the measures for 72 hours. Aguila said Mayor Dan Gelber has called an emergency commission meeting Sunday where commissioners will vote whether to extend the order or cancel it.
Aguila said he has support from Ocean Drive Association Chairman Jonathan Plutzik, who owns the Betsy Hotel, and has heard from three other Ocean Drive businesses that are voluntarily closing due to the unruly crowds.
On Friday, the iconic Clevelander South Beach announced it would temporarily close.
Cover photo: Miami Beach PD