Fearing the Covid-19 Surge, Florida Officials Crack Down on Spring Break


MIAMI BEACH, Florida – Nearly a year after some Florida vacationers refused to allow the coronavirus to disrupt their parties and help trigger a wave of closures, this city is bracing for a new crop of revelers.

Although many colleges have canceled spring break to prevent students from gathering at vacation spots, officials here expect a large influx in the coming weeks. Flights and hotels are cheap. The brutal winter storms across much of the country left people yearning for a getaway. And Florida’s pandemic rules on bars and nightclubs are more lenient than many states.

“We could see a really huge spring break at a time when the last thing we want is big meetings,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, a Democrat. He cited the concerns of public health specialists that such crowds could spawn another wave of Covid-19 cases.

Bars, restaurants and clubs will be open to no less than 50% capacity, because the city cannot close them under a state executive order. But Miami Beach, a barrier island known for its stylish hotels and lively nightlife, is taking a zero-tolerance approach. Authorities have tightened restrictions from February 22 to April 12 and expect a peak of activity in March. They have also launched an advertising campaign urging young people to vacation responsibly.

More police officers and code enforcement personnel are patrolling to enforce the measures, including a midnight curfew and a ban on alcohol and sound equipment on the beach. Music in venues cannot exceed ambient noise levels. Beach patrols make sure groups maintain social distance and wear masks when appropriate.

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