MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Closing time came two hours early for businesses and visitors in Miami Beach’s entertainment district, as the city began enforcing a new curfew as part of an ongoing effort to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
7News cameras captured Miami Beach Police officers in buggies as they prepared to clear Ocean Drive and nearby Collins Avenue, Saturday night.
Everyone was sent home or somewhere else, and businesses shut down by 8 p.m. as scheduled.
“We needed to get things under control, and we’re doing that for everyone’s health, for everyone’s safety,” said Miami Beach Police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez.
Under the new emergency order extension, people must leave the entertainment district and businesses have to stop serving customers no later than 8 p.m. — two hours earlier than the curfew for the rest of Miami Beach — until 6 a.m.
It took a considerable number of officers in the streets to get the job done.
People who came to South Beach on vacation said they’re not seeing the nightlife they expected but they understand why the city is taking this measure.
“I don’t think it’s bad. It’s well-needed, you know what I’m saying? So nothing bad can happen, any COVID,” said tourist Makye Jackson.
For city leaders, COVID-19 is their most pressing concern.
“Right now, we do not have a handle on this,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
Gelber addressed the new restrictions in a video message posted Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve really, I think, tried to take measures that we hoped would work, but I’m not sure that they will, and we’re looking at the data very carefully,” he said.
Miami Beach is not the only part of South Florida with new restrictions.
Broward County is also making changes to battle the spread. An 11 p.m. countywide curfew kicked in Friday night.
“I just wish people would understand that, hey, we’re going through a pandemic, and it would be nice for them to abide by the rules,” said “Wico,” who is visiting Fort Lauderdale.
From Broward to South Beach, law enforcement is focused on social distancing, face coverings and curfews.
“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.
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.
Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.
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