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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

From left are Campbell River Food Bank volunteers Darlane Davis, Pat Carville and Donnie Earles. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Keeping food out of the landfill just might save the planet

Food waste is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and it doesn’t have to be

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

(File photo)
Campbell River’s sewer system is at capacity for southernmost residents

City says no more homes can be hooked into the sewer system at the south end at this point

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Wildfire burning in remote area near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating cause, but confirms it is human-caused

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson leaves the assembly with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Paid sick leave for ‘hard-hit’ workers left out of provincial budget, BCGEU says

‘For recovery to be equitable it requires supports for workers, not just business,’ says service employee union president Laird Cronk

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Most Read