People walk along Ocean Drive on March 21, 2021 in Miami Beach, Florida. College students have arrived in the South Florida area for the annual spring break ritual and have urged city officials to impose a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. while the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention again advised against travel Monday while business owners in Miami Beach, Florida worried about the chaos over the spring break.
Miami Beach officials declared a state of emergency and ordered a rare curfew over the weekend to avoid the spread of Covid-19 and stop large crowds and unruly behavior in the popular tourist destination.
Some companies in the region, seeking to recover from a brutal year of pandemic that saw tourist numbers decline, said they were being wrongly punished.
Police have arrested more than 1,000 people since February 3, 50 of whom were cited over the weekend. The 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. curfew could be extended for up to three weeks to control the crowd that businesses could hit during the main spring break.
“Everything is choppy,” said Ashley Swanson, bartender at Mac’s Club Deuce Bar in South Beach. “You’re blaming the wrong people. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be open before midnight.
“The problem is not mine, the problem is with me [authorities] manage a lot, “he added.
Swanson said Mac’s was closed for Covid-19 from March through October.
Florida, which was not closed during the pandemic like many other states, was a top travel destination last year but still suffered from the pandemic. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said on MSNBC Monday that the spring breaker crowd is drawn to the city for a number of reasons.
“It was a very difficult mix of cheap flights, cheap hotels and the fact that they are known to be probably the most open place in the country,” he said, adding that the crowd is causing some “very, very worrying incidents on the beach”.
According to an estimate by Visit Florida, the state tourism agency, the state recorded 86.7 million visitors last year, a 34% decrease from 2019.
“Curfews have been incredibly impressive to our business and extremely disappointing given the challenges we have faced over the past year,” said John Kunkel, founder and CEO of 50 Eggs Hospitality Group, which has 11 restaurants, including the Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Miami Beach said in a written statement. “That said, the Miami Beach area is like nothing I’ve seen in 20 years and is totally unacceptable. Something has to be done to help us and all businesses in the area. It’s devastating.”
The demand for flights and hotel rooms has recently increased, and prices and tariffs have increased. This is a trend fueled by a surge in vaccinations and travelers looking to travel after much of the past year.
The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1 million people at US airports in the past 11 days for the first time in more than a year. On Sunday, TSA examined more than 1.5 million people, most for more than a year, but still 30% fewer than the 2.2 million people compared to the same day in 2019.
Many colleges in the US have cut their spring break to prevent parties and new Covid infections. While Covid-19 cases have fallen from their peak in January, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, warned that infections could occur when people travel on spring break.
“Now is not the time to travel,” she said at a press conference on Monday.
“We are concerned not only with what happens when you are on the plane yourself, but also with what happens when people travel, that is, they go out, they mingle, they mingle with people who are not vaccinated “, she said.