UPDATED 8:30 AM PT – Sunday, March 7, 2021
As spring break approaches for many across the nation, a popular destination is ramping up its preparations. Florida lawmakers have implemented new rules to keep the state’s COVID-19 case rate from skyrocketing, as the Sunshine State usually sees an influx of tourists drawn to its beaches and nightlife.
Officials in Miami have implemented a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. curfew, and also banned alcohol consumption on the beach. Large dance and entertainment events are barred as well.
“Our 400 plus officers will be working extended shifts, extended hours during these shifts,” Miami Police Department Officer Ernesto Rodriguez said.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber warned incoming tourists of how seriously they are taking these safety measures.
“Don’t be foolish, don’t come here if you think this is an anything goes environment,” Gelber stated. “We will arrest you.”
In the meantime, an even stricter measure was implemented by popular bar and social hotspot, The Wharf Fort Lauderdale, which banned out of state guests under the age of 23 to enter until April. The establishment said the rule is in place to prevent the rush of college age spring breakers.
North on the Gulf Coast, Panama City Beach authorities said they have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to law violations. Officials there mandated alcohol will not be served from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m., and overnight scooter rentals will be prohibited.
“We want people to come down, have a good time, have fun, build some memories,” Drew Whitman of the Panama City Police Department stated. “Build long lasting relationships, go home, spread the word how beautiful this is. But we want them to be safe, secured, make sure nobody gets hurt.”
Daytona Beach safety officials said they are expecting crowds as big as before the pandemic, but to ensure tourists social distance, they have extra security and drones to maintain social distancing.
While the state has already seen tourism begin to pick up, officials said its just the beginning, and expect the “rush” to start mid-March.