As the COVID-19 pandemic guidelines relaxed on the sight of hope in the form of vaccines, people started to take the virus lightly, even though it claimed millions of lives and traumatised hundreds and thousands of people globally. Due to the pandemic, the spring break at Miami Beach in Florida was restricted and this year too, the authorities have taken preventive measures. Surprisingly, COVID-19 isn't alone to be blamed.
A state of emergency is in effect in Miami Beach, cutting the spring break festivities short with night curfew. Revellers acting like the pandemic is over and destroying public property and creating a chaos has led to the decision. According to a BBC report, there's a curfew in the island city from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and it will remain in effect at least till April 12. The authorities have also ordered the businesses to remain close in the famous South Beach area, which attracts massive crowds during spring break.
Reacting to the recent revelry in Miami Beach, Mayor Dan Gelber said the tourists brought "chaos and disorder" to the city.
"It feels like a rock concert, wall-to-wall people over blocks and blocks," Gelber told CNN. "If you're coming here to go crazy, go somewhere else."
Why declare state of emergency?
Spring break is a holiday period for students in the US, who usually throng to Florida and other warm destinations around the country. This usually takes place in March or April, the peak time when beaches are packed and crowds are uncontrollable. But Mayor Gelber said this year's volume is clearly more than it has been in the previous years.
"I think it is in part due to the fact that there are very few places open elsewhere in the country, or they're too cold -- or they're not open and they're too cold," he said.
As a result, thousands of revellers thronged to the Miami Beach over the weekend, flouting COVID-19 guidelines. No face masks or even social distancing was witnessed. The South Beach was overwhelmed with massive crowds and looked like a rock concert, Acting City Manager Raul Aguila descried.
"You couldn't see pavement and you couldn't see grass," he said.
Videos from the scene showed not just flouting COVID guidelines, but also violence and damage to properties. According to local reports, tourists got into fights, fled without paying expensive hotel bills and wrecked havoc in the city. All this while Florida continues to remain a coronavirus hotspot, which has reported nearly 2 million cases so far.
The unruly behaviour of the tourists, and threat to public safety is what triggered the state of emergency in the US city. The restrictive measures will remain in place, preventing pedestrians and vehicles from entering the South Beach area's main party strips.