In this image taken from video, police officers stand guard Saturday evening, March 20, 2021, as crowds descend on South Beach in Miami. After days of partying and confrontations between police and large crowds, Miami Beach officials have ordered an emergency curfew. (WPLG via AP)

In this image taken from video, police officers stand guard Saturday evening, March 20, 2021, as crowds descend on South Beach in Miami. After days of partying and confrontations between police and large crowds, Miami Beach officials have ordered an emergency curfew. (WPLG via AP)

PHOTOS: Miami sets earlier curfew after spring break crowds, fights

Officers in bulletproof vests used pepper spray balls to break up groups that descended on South Beach

Miami Beach’s commissioners will hold an emergency meeting Sunday to determine whether to extend an unusual 8 p.m. curfew aimed at curtailing spring break crowds that got so out of hand that authorities had to call in SWAT teams.

Officers in bulletproof vests dispersed pepper spray balls Saturday to break up groups that descended on sunny South Beach by the thousands, trashing restaurants and flooding the streets without masks or social distancing despite COVID-19 restrictions.

After days of partying, including several confrontations between police and large crowds, Miami Beach officials had enough and ordered an emergency curfew from 8 p.m. til 6 a.m., forcing restaurants to stop outdoor seating entirely during the three-day emergency period, and encouraging local businesses to voluntarily shut down.

A military style vehicle was seen rolling down the palm-tree lined Ocean Drive on social media as outnumbered Miami Beach police officers struggled to disperse the raucous crowds Saturday. Tourists were urged to stay inside their hotels and pedestrians or vehicles were not allowed to enter the restricted area after 8 p.m.

The emergency order caused confusion, and defiance, in some cases. It was announced at 4 p.m., just four hours before it was to go into effect. Videos flooded social media during that time as rebellious – but largely nonviolent – crowds refused to disperse. Some people responded by jumping on top of cars, twerking and throwing money into the air.

Around 9 p.m., Miami Beach Police tweeted pictures of empty streets. An email and phone call to Miami Beach Police was not immediately returned Sunday.

“Our city in this area has become a tinder,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said at a press conference Saturday. “And we can’t have a policy of simply hoping it’s not lit.”

The curfew comes as the iconic bar, the Clevelander South Beach, announced it was temporarily suspending all food and beverage operations until at least March 24 after crowds crammed Ocean Drive, breaking out into street fights. At another restaurant next door, tables and chairs were smashed during a fight, news outlets reported.

Local officials and businesses have struggled to balance courting tourists to boost the economy while doing so safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Miami tourism officials say billions of dollars were lost when the pandemic first erupted last year, cancelling spring break and forcing beach closures across the Sunshine State. The city’s tourism arm just spent $5 million on its biggest national advertising campaign in 20 years.

At the same time, local officials banned alcohol from the beach, along with all alcohol sales after 10 p.m. in an effort to curb partying. The city even sent cellphone text messages to tourists warning, “Vacation Responsibly or Be Arrested.”

“Spring break in Miami Beach may be one of the great rites of passage, but only if you plan on following the rules. Otherwise, you might as well just stay home and save yourself the court costs,” the message read.

But local officials have struggled to enforce COVID ordinances. Under Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pro-business stance, Florida has no statewide mask rules, limits on capacity or other such restrictions.

ALSO READ: U.S. businesses near border struggle with boundaries’ closure

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusUSA

 

People watch as City of Miami Beach Police officers arrest several males on Ocean Drive and 10th Street as spring break has officially begun, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 in Miami Beach, Fla. Miami Beach officials are imposing an emergency 8 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew effective immediately, saying large, out-of-control spring break crowds crammed the beaches, trashed some restaurant properties and brawled in the streets. Tourists and hotel guests are being told to stay indoors during the curfew hours. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)

People watch as City of Miami Beach Police officers arrest several males on Ocean Drive and 10th Street as spring break has officially begun, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 in Miami Beach, Fla. Miami Beach officials are imposing an emergency 8 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew effective immediately, saying large, out-of-control spring break crowds crammed the beaches, trashed some restaurant properties and brawled in the streets. Tourists and hotel guests are being told to stay indoors during the curfew hours. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)

Just Posted

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Brenda Ware. (RCMP)
Murder charge laid against man in Kootenay National Park homicide

Philip Toner was located in Lake Country on May 11

Town has passed the 2021 budget, with a five per cent spending increase. (Claire Palmer photo)
Town council approves 2021 budget and tax rate bylaw

The budget will increase by five per cent this year

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vernon’s Tanya Wick, human resources VP at Tolko Industries Ltd., has been named the 2021 HR Professional of the Year by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon. (CPHR BC & Yukon photo)
Okanagan resident gets top provincial award for HR excellence

Tolko’s Tanya Wick has earned the title of 2021 HR Professional of the Year

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in South Okanagan

The area will see higher police presence ahead of a forensic examination

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
More than 40% of Central Okanagan residents have received 1st vaccine dose

Local clinics have administered 81,247 first doses to Central Okanagan residents

Most Read