The city of Miami Beach voted Sunday to extend emergency restrictions amid out-of-control spring break crowds that local officials believe are made up of more than just typical college students.
City commissioners voted to keep an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in its entertainment district, with an exception for restaurant delivery services, and restrictions on causeways beginning at 10 p.m.
The rules began Saturday on a 72-hour state of emergency order and will remain in effect through the end of the month with the possibility of extending them to mid-April.
The city has made over 1,000 arrests since February, with roughly half involving out-of-state-residents, and the influx has led to increasing crowd-control issues, Miami Beach officials said Sunday.
The type of crowds that have descended on the popular South Florida destination are not comprised of the regular college-age students officials are used to, said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and City Manager Raul Aguila.
“I don’t see this is a sort of spring break thing, because I don’t think these are college kids,” Gelber said. “ I think it changes the nature of what we’re in front of here. I think there are very few places that are open as we have been and as our state has been open. And there are even precious fewer places as beautiful as ours that is open.”
Aguila said Florida’s lax Covid-19 rules have encouraged people from outside the state to visit.
“This is a spring break like no other,” Aguila said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis agreed to help provide Florida Highway Patrol reinforcement and Florida Department of Law Enforcement resources for the city, Gelber said.
In recent weeks, officers have seen crowds take over streets and sidewalks, said Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements, and they have conducted an “alarming” number of firearms seizures.
“We’ve let our officers know that the frequency by which they’re encountering these weapons on the street are probably greater than we’ve seen in five years,” Clements said.
Officers have struggled to rein in large groups of people who have caused fights and stampedes.
Two Miami Beach officers were injured earlier this month while trying to disperse crowds and arrested a 19-year-old on suspicion of inciting a riot. The person allegedly yelled profanities at the police and resisted an order to disperse as a crowd gathered around.
He was arrested on charges of battery on a police officer, incitement to riot and disorderly conduct after allegedly failing to leave after officers asked.
Visitors continued to descend on the city despite efforts to restrict activity before the emergency order was approved Sunday.
Miami Beach had previously imposed a midnight curfew, and alcohol on the beach is forbidden. Tourists were receiving cellphone messages warning, “Vacation responsibly or be arrested.”