MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Throngs of revelers flocking to Miami Beach, Florida, for spring break have become so uncontrollable that authorities imposed a curfew Saturday that they hope will spoil the party.
For the next 72 hours, visitors will have to leave the streets and restaurants will close their doors at 8 p.m. in the main tourist areas of South Beach, the epicenter of the city’s party scene, authorities announced.
In addition, the three bridges that connect the island with mainland Miami will be closed to traffic after 10 p.m.
Only residents, workers and hotel guests will have access.
“This is all about the public safety, folks,” said acting City Manager Raul Aguila.
Referring to photos of huge crowds gathering on the main Ocean Drive strip, he added: “It looked like a rock concert. You couldn’t see pavement and you couldn’t see grass.”
The move followed weeks of wild partying in Miami Beach, which is no stranger to uncontrollable spring break crowds.
But this year the volume is clearly higher than in previous years, said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
“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.
Over the last several days viral videos have emerged showing fights in restaurants that caused serious damage in addition to prompting diners to flee without paying expensive bills, according to local press reports.
Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements said he is concerned the situation will become unmanageable.
On Thursday night “we had an issue where hundreds of people ran at one particular time. Tables and chairs were thrown and used as weapons,” he said.
He added that police had hoped it was a one-time event but “last night we had three of those situations and we had a young lady that got hurt as a result of trying to run away from a crowd.”
“We can’t continue to be fortunate. We have to do some things that are going to mitigate those circumstances,” he said.