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

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
The Longhorn Saloon and Grill has opened its patio for outdoor diners. (Facebook photo)
Town of Ponoka launches new temporary seasonal patio program

The Town of Ponoka has launched a new Temporary Seasonal Patio Program… Continue reading

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

2019 Ponoka Stampede rodeo action. (File photo)
Chute not yet open for 2021 Ponoka Stampede

Ponoka Stampede Association still hopeful event can go ahead this year

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary schools to shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12 due to COVID-19

The change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

Most Read