MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—Nearly a year after some Florida spring breakers refused to let the coronavirus interrupt their parties and helped trigger a wave of lockdowns, this city is bracing for a fresh crop of revelers.
Though many colleges have canceled spring break to prevent students from congregating in vacation spots, officials here are expecting a large influx over the coming weeks. Flights and hotels are cheap. Brutal winter storms in much of the country left people yearning for an escape. And Florida’s pandemic rules on bars and nightclubs are more lenient than those in many states.
“We could potentially see a truly outsized spring break at a time when the last thing we want are major gatherings,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, a Democrat. He cited public-health specialists’ concerns that such crowds could generate another surge of Covid-19 cases.
Bars, restaurants and clubs will be open at no less than 50% capacity, because the city can’t shut them down under a state executive order. But Miami Beach—a barrier island known for its stylish hotels and spirited nightlife—is taking a zero-tolerance approach. Officials have beefed up restrictions from Feb. 22 to April 12 and expect peak activity in March. They have also launched an ad campaign urging young people to vacation responsibly.
More police officers and code-compliance staffers are patrolling to enforce measures including a midnight curfew and bans on alcohol and boom boxes on the beach. Music at venues can’t exceed ambient noise levels. Beach patrols are ensuring groups maintain social distance and wear masks when appropriate.