Miami Beach, Fla., declared a state of emergency Saturday over concern about large crowds of spring breakers gathering in the city.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber (D) said during a news conference Saturday that new measures will be implemented that are “essentially purposed to reduce the number of people” coming to the area.
Gelber announced an 8 p.m. curfew in the Entertainment District, and a restriction of east-bound traffic on city causeways that will only be accessible to residents and hotel guests.
The measures go into effect at 9 p.m. Saturday, and will remain in effect for 72 hours. Gelber said he will hold an emergency meeting with the City Commission on Sunday to address the measures.
The city later posted the emergency order to its Twitter account. According to the order, these actions are separate from those that the city has put in place to combat COVID-19.
City of Miami Beach Announces 8 p.m. Curfew in High Impact Zone Starting Tonight — Officials Also Impose Additional Spring Break Emergency Measures pic.twitter.com/3lmt3FsbJw
— #MaskUpMiamiBeach (@MiamiBeachNews) March 20, 2021
The news comes as photos from the area show crowds of people who have flocked to the city and gathered on its beaches, ignoring COVID-19 protocols.
Miami Beach’s interim City Manager Raul Aguila said Saturday that he’s received emails from businesses that have voluntarily closed or don’t want to open due to the crowds.
The state of emergency marks a point of escalation in the issue following reports of rowdy spring breakers this month.
Gelber told CBS News that hundreds of spring breakers had been arrested for ignoring the city’s coronavirus guidelines, and that police officers had been injured trying to handle the crowds.
“If you’re coming here because you think anything goes, you’re going to have a terrible time. We’re going to arrest you. We’ve made hundreds and hundreds of arrests,” Gelber said at the time.
Police had to disperse a crowd of about 200 spring breakers that were “unruly” and surrounding officers by an intersection by shooting pepper balls. The Miami Beach Police Department said at the time that several people were detained and two officers were injured.
According to NBC News’s affiliate in South Florida, police on Friday had to use pepper balls once again to disperse a crowd after a fight broke out at a restaurant.
“At night, there is no question that it becomes a place that feels a little out of control or a lot out of control,” Gelber said Saturday. “At times, you see things that you realize shouldn’t happen, and no community should have to endure.”
Updated 7:14 p.m.