MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami Beach has had a run of bad behavior, with a blatant lack of social distancing, street parties and even violence — much of it caught on camera — but a new emergency order aims to put a stop to the mayhem in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales told commissioners Friday he will extend the emergency order through at least July 24, and it will now include an 8 p.m. curfew in the entertainment district for people and businesses, and the closing of package liquor stores in that area at 5 p.m starting Saturday.
All business establishments located within the entertainment district (excluding the portion between 73 and 75 streets) and the area between Pennsylvania Avenue and Collins Court, from Fifth Street to 16th Street (excluding Espanola Way between Washington Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue), must close by 8 p.m. daily, except for delivery.
7News cameras captured passers-by strolling down Ocean Drive, Saturday afternoon, several hours before the curfew is set to go into effect.
News of the new curfew did not meet with visitors’ approval.
“I feel like y’all already made us, well, mad, so why close it down?” tourist Bionka Johnson said.
“Disappointed. I came down here for a vacation. I’m sad,” another visitor said.
Miami Beach Police officials, meanwhile, said they are working to get more officers on the streets to focus on breaking up the crowds.
“We’re beefing up our staffing across the board,” Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements said. “The most important thing is the more bodies out there, the more people we have that we can concentrate and go up to these crowds and do that.”
“The main thing people are going to see if they come to Miami Beach is an increased police presence,” Miami Beach Police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez said.
The public street of most concern these days? Ocean Drive, where groups gather at night for big parties, fueling fears about the spread of the coronavirus.
“Right now, our emphasis is on public safety. Public safety has to be number one,” Miami Beach Commissioner David Richardson said. “We can’t have gunshots and brandishing of guns and ransacking of cafes on our public streets.”
Close contact and minimal mask protection have prompted calls from city leaders for stricter enforcement.
“Don’t come to Miami Beach without a mask on, or you’re going to get a ticket; you’re going to see people complying with the law,” Commissioner Michael Gongora said.
Before it’s time to clear the streets and close all businesses, police officers will focus on breaking up crowds and making sure people are wearing masks.
“We have not only additional Miami Beach Police officers out on our roadways,” Rodriguez said, “we also have officers from Miami-Dade County here assisting Miami Beach with enforcing the face cover mandates, ensuring folks are maintaining that social distance.”
New restrictions are also in place in Broward County with a new emergency order.
“The well-being of the people of Broward County is at stake, and for us to not do everything we can, it wouldn’t be right,” Broward Mayor Dale Holness said during a recent news conference.
An 11 p.m. curfew in Broward kicked in Friday night.
Miami Beach leaders said it’s all in an effort to avoid another shutdown, but if the numbers don’t start taking a turn for the better, that’s a real possibility in the coming days.
“Number one is public safety, and right now, we have a public safety concern,” Richardson said.
“I feel like better safe than sorry,” said a passer-by on Ocean Drive.
“That’s a precaution, safety first, I guess, you know?” said Juan Cabrera, who is visiting from New Jersey.
Details of the curfew also include having the entirety of Ocean Drive, from Fifth Street to 15th Street, closed to all vehicular traffic at all times.
Restaurants are allowed to keep their kitchens open after 8 p.m., but for deliveries only.
For more information on the city’s efforts to curb COVID-19, please visit miamibeachfl.gov/coronavirus.
The full curfew order is below.
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