MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Faced with a pandemic and unruly crowds packing Miami Beach’s entertainment district, the city’s mayor said extended curfews and causeway closures are needed to keep the peace and people safe.
“Well, it feels in some ways like our city is a tinder right now. It’s not just about not wearing masks and physical distancing, it’s also some of the folks that are coming, are coming with bad intention, so there’s been brawls and even gunplay. And when you have these levels of crowds, you can’t really manage, unless you have enormous policing and all that mixed creates a lot of peril and a lot of concern, and I do worry,” said Mayor Dan Gelber.READ MORE: Chaos on South Beach
Some Miami Beach residents said they’ve never seen a Spring Break like this.
John Walter, who lives in South Beach, said Sunday night when police pushed the crowds off Ocean Drive due to the new 8 p.m. curfew, a group moved a few blocks away to his neighborhood off Meridian Avenue.
“People were walking up and down the parked cars, he said. “My neighbor’s kids were screaming. When the police showed up, people started running towards our building. My neighbor and I sat on the floor and put our feet on the staircase to try and block them from coming in.”
Mitch Novick, who has been the owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel for more than 21 years said the crime on South Beach has caused him to keep his doors shut.
“I have been closed since April and refuse to reopen. This area has now become a crime zone,” said Novick.
He said he won’t be re-opening the hotel any time soon.
“I advice my guests or former guests to find alternative routes. This is a complete failure of our elected officials. This has become a carnival like circus on the street,” said Novick.READ MORE: Miami Beach On High Alert As Another Long Spring Break Weekend To Start
However, the Sherbrooke Hotel isn’t the only business put on hold.
On Friday March 19, The Clevelander South Beach announced it was temporarily closing its bars and restaurants. Managers feared for the safety of their staff after a stampede poured into the Clevelander when a fight broke out and a crowd trashed the place.
However, on March 24, the Clevelander reopened those bars and restaurants to the public thanks to extended curfews and causeway closures put in place by Mayor Dan Gelber.
The extended curfew for Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Espanola Way from 5th through 16th Streets last from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m.
As for keeping out incoming traffic, the Julia Tuttle, Venetian MacArthur Causeway will close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The curfew and causeway closures will be in effect Thursdays through Sundays through April 12th.
Romain Zago, owner of Mynt restaurant and lounge, said this is only hurting their business.
“It’s not good for our image, not good for our city, not good for no one. This is not the solution. It affects not only the entertainment business, it affects everyone else. Saturday night, we lost half our reservations because they were stuck on the causeway. It is not fair,” said Zago.