Broward County officials debate COVID-19 curfews for spring breakers

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward County officials are rolling out new rules ahead of thousands of spring breakers descending on South Florida in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

During a board of commissioners meeting, some officials said a curfew should be in place in case spring breakers get out of control. However, others debated the efficiency of curfews stopping the spread of the virus.

In the next few days, South Florida beaches are going to be crowded as spring break begins and students flock down to warmer weather to party.

But with COVID-19 still looming, that would be a problem.

“When you look at the beaches and you look at the young people, they don’t wear their masks, and they don’t social distance, and they are spreaders,” said Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich, “so I feel like we have to be prepared, and a curfew is something that we should have ready to go.”

“If a limitation of hours were to be necessary, I would recommend midnight is a reasonable hour,” said Broward County Mayor Steve Geller.

However, the City of Fort Lauderdale believes a countywide curfew is illegal and unenforceable.

In a letter to Geller, Fort Lauderdale’s mayor states that if a curfew is issued, partygoers will leave bars and continue to party in unregulated areas like hotel rooms and Airbnbs.

“I prefer that people wear masks at all times, but if they’re going to not wear masks, I would prefer they take it back to their hotel room and have eight people crammed in there as opposed to 400 people crammed arm to arm,” Geller said.

Some county commissioners disagreed.

“We all want to make sure we stop the spread of this [virus], but none of the science backs up any of these curfews in my opinion,” said Vice Mayor Michael Udine. “I don’t think the curfew does anything. There’s no difference at 2:00 in the morning than there is at 2:00 in the afternoon at the Elbo Room on spring break.”

Many said the curfew or limitation hours will only hurt businesses and do little to stop the spread.

“If your curfew is in order, if you think a curfew is gonna stop it, then you should have a curfew 24/7 because the restaurants are open, and this is all occurring at the same time all during the day. Everybody drinks, everybody takes off their mask to drink, so what are we debating?” said Commissioner Barbara Shareif.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.