The city of Miami Beach, worried about the massive crowds taking to the streets of South Beach and the threat of a coronavirus resurgence, increased its curfew on Saturday in a bid to end the late-night spring break that , she said, had gotten out of hand.
“It looked like a rock concert,” Raul J. Aguila, the city’s acting director, said at a hastily-organized press conference on Saturday afternoon. “You couldn’t see the sidewalk and you couldn’t see the grass.”
Miami-Dade County recently suffered one of the nation’s worst epidemics and more than 32,000 Floridians have died from the virus, an unthinkable cost that state leaders rarely acknowledge. It is also believed that the state has the highest concentration of B.1.1.7, the most contagious and possibly deadliest variant of the virus first identified in Britain.
Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, said on Saturday he feared Americans would feel too comfortable as vaccinations accelerated and the daily workload of the country had declined well below its January high. But cases have stabilized at a high level, similar to the summer surge, according to a New York Times Database.
“History has shown us that when you have this plateau, it’s usually the harbinger of another surge – we’ve actually seen it in the European Union,” Dr Fauci said on the “Today” show, referring to the last outbreak in Europe which prompted governments to reimpose lockdown restrictions.
“I am really concerned if we declare victory prematurely that the same is going to happen,” Dr Fauci said of the situation in Europe. “If we can just hang on a little longer, the more people get vaccinated, the less likely it is.”
In Miami Beach, law enforcement said large crowds were drawn to the city because they were looking for a place with fewer viral restrictions. Hotel rooms and flights have been drastically reduced to make up for months of wasted time.
Miami Beach hotels are not required to close, but guests are encouraged to stay on hotel premises after curfews, and restaurants, bars, and sidewalk cafes are required to close at 8 p.m.
Miami Beach’s entertainment district includes the iconic Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, as well as Washington Avenue and Española Way, from Fifth to 16th Street. Police will also prevent people who are not city residents, hotel guests, or employees who work in South Beach from traveling into town along the MacArthur, Venetian and Julia Tuttle Causeways from 9 p.m. until 5 am the next day.
Emergency measures will be in place for 72 hours, until the Municipal Commission can meet to decide on a longer-term plan. Miami-Dade County has already implemented a county-wide curfew at midnight.