(NewsNation) — A citywide curfew takes effect at midnight Thursday in Miami Beach, Florida, in response to violent spring break incidents that saw five people wounded in two separate shootings.
As part of a state of emergency order, starting Thursday at 12:01 a.m., a midnight curfew will go into effect and will remain until 6 a.m. on March 28, said Miami Beach City Manager Alina Hudak.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said rowdy tourists have created an “unacceptable” atmosphere of fear in the city.
“Well, they’re not residents, that’s for sure,” Gelber said during an appearance on “Morning in America.” “They’re clearly visitors.”
Miami Beach remains a very popular spot for those who want to go on vacation during spring break.
Big crowds of revelers hit the beach during the day and take over the streets, drinking and dancing, at night, leaving little access for law enforcement and creating a cause for concern.
Mitch Novick lives in the penthouse of the hotel he owns called The Sherbrooke — just a half a block off Ocean Drive.
He should be enjoying the unbelievable view.
Instead, he’s inside most of the time, focused on his security cameras.
“I have been here for so long. I love it here despite the madness, Novick said. “Until we get the message across to the world, ‘Hey, the party is over, kids,’ then it is not going to change.”
And this coming weekend, it’ll be even busier, with 50,000 more people in town for the Ultra Music Festival.
“What’s really happened is that so many people are coming in, we don’t ask for it,” Gelber said. “We don’t advertise or seek to have a spring break. Most cities in Florida that have had a spring break don’t want it anymore, because it just is too rowdy, too young, too over the top.”
Police will be out in full force as the curfew makes it illegal for any partygoers and spring breakers to be out on the streets.
“One thing people have to understand is we had 371 police officers in our little city out on Saturday, Sunday, Monday each day, in an enormous saturation in the area where the shootings occurred,” Gelber said. “And notwithstanding the fact that literally there were policemen just steps away, this stuff happened. And so from my point of view, if you can’t deter and stop a shooting with a saturation of police, then you have no option.”
Besides the curfew, Miami Beach city commissioners voted to give the city manager the power to stop liquor stores and other retailers from selling alcohol in the area.
Novick says he has already had three guests cancel their hotel reservations because of the madness out on the streets. There are, of course, some owners of nightclubs not happy that they will have to shut down at midnight.
Businesses will have to shut down early enough to get patrons out before midnight. Hotels can stay open for their guests only but liquor stores, bars and restaurants serving alcohol to anyone who will drink off-premises won’t be allowed to sell any alcohol past 6 p.m.
“My hope is that the businesses comply, which I think they will,” Gelber said. “And then people don’t, you know, sort of want to make a statement by staying out late.”
Local businesses say this will hurt their usually busy weekend.
Gelber said implementing the curfew is “really just to give our police an ability to better manage the challenge of spring break in South Florida.”
Spring break 2022 is the first post-pandemic escape for partygoers and families alike, but it has become marred with violence.
On Sunday, three people were wounded in a shooting on a popular Miami Beach street.
“You just can’t have that, you know, in a city,” Gelber said. “There’s a lot of gun violence in America right now. But, this is not your mom or your dad’s spring break. They’re not shooting water guns; they’re shooting real guns. And that’s just absolutely unacceptable.
Last year, Miami Beach officials had also enacted a curfew for the entertainment district in an attempt to suppress crowds and potential COVID-19 outbreaks.
And if spring breakers choose to defy the imposed curfew, Gelber said, “Our cops know what to do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.