The City of Miami Beach is enforcing a slew of safety measures, including a nightly curfew and highway shutdowns, for at least 72 hours in an attempt to control the spring break crowds that police say have been particularly rowdy this season.
The emergency measures come after weeks of violent incidents, much of it captured on cellphone video, including fights, stampedes, confrontations with police and even a deadly shooting.
“I love that this is a beautiful place, that people come here to gather and enjoy our weather and our beaches,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said at a press conference Saturday when the measures were announced. “But right now, it has become too challenging in the tourism industry to continue that way.”
An 8 p.m. curfew will be effective beginning Saturday night, encompassing Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Española Way, from 5th to 16th Street. All restaurants, bars and businesses must be closed by the curfew, and police will also be clearing public right of ways.
In addition, McArthur, Venetian and Julia Tuttle causeways will all be closed as of 9 p.m. Saturday night and will not reopen until 5 a.m. the following day. One lane will be open throughout the night for residents, hotel guests and employees who work on South Beach.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” City Manager Raul J. Aguila said as he outlined all the measures. “But you saw the photos from last night. It was quite simply overwhelming. It looked like a rock concert: you couldn’t see pavement and you couldn’t see grass.”
Guests who are staying in South Beach hotels will not be asked to vacate, but the city urges them to stay on hotel premises after 8 p.m. In addition, sidewalk cafes will have to close by 7 p.m., and the city’s pilot program for outdoor dining on Washington, Collins and Ocean Drive will also have to close by curfew.