Miami Beach vacation disrupted by Spring Break curfew rules

Felicia Hughes spent $1,700 for four nights at a hotel on Washington Avenue in the heart of South Beach for a long weekend for her niece’s 30th birthday. Then the group from Maryland found they couldn’t even buy a drink after midnight.

“It was a bust,” Hughes, 54, said from a bench at the Chesterfield Hotel, where she and her family arrived late Thursday from Maryland and found they couldn’t walk to a restaurant or a bar after Miami Beach imposed a midnight curfew on the South Beach neighborhood. “I am totally disappointed.”

Announced Wednesday morning, the midnight curfew south of Dade Boulevard led to another evening of thinning crowds Saturday on Ocean Drive as visitors and locals crossed Biscayne Bay for clubs in downtown Miami, Wynwood and beyond.

The migration to the mainland has hit the transportation budgets of some springs, who have found themselves with the option of buying rides to Miami from Uber and Lyft, or else calling it a night.

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Restaurants and bars on Ocean Drive were forced to close earlier than usual on Saturday, March 26, 2022, as a midnight curfew was imposed by the City of Miami Beach for the South Beach area, Because of two shootings the previous weekend, this caused city officials to announce a “state of emergency.” Pedro Portal [email protected]

“It was $70 for Wynwood. It’s a way,” said Angela Rometo, 22, who came from Pittsburgh for a South Beach vacation with friends.

With restaurants, bars and clubs forced to stop serving at midnight, curfew rules have wiped out some of South Beach’s busiest nightlife hours.

A midnight curfew in South Beach

Fred Johnson, 32, drives a modified Crew Carts golf cart that takes people on short trips around South Beach for tips. He was slowly walking down a busy Saturday Ocean Drive, his seats empty. Ahead of the curfew restrictions, he said his busiest time on a Saturday evening would typically arrive around midnight, with another peak at 4 a.m.

“That’s when people come out of clubs,” he said.

As of 10 p.m. Saturday, crowds were thin on Ocean Drive — and a far cry from the throngs of people that filled the oceanfront boulevard the weekend before. Gunfire on March 20 and 21 injured five and sent passing jamming. A few days later, March 23, Miami Beach declared a state of emergency and imposed curfew rules.

Alex Fernandez, a Miami Beach commissioner, said Saturday night he expected more people to be on Ocean Drive with two hours before curfew. But he said the city could not risk a repeat of what he described as the chaos of the previous weekend.

Few people on Ocean Drive

“Are there fewer people than I would have liked to see?” Yes,” he said during a walk that took him to the corner of 7th Street and Ocean Drive. While tourists may feel ripped off on an all-out vacation to South Beach, Fernandez said Miami Beach can’t risk a situation spiraling out of control this weekend.

“I think the city is fairer to its tourists when it offers them a safe city,” he said.

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A group of women twerk on Washington Avenue on Saturday, March 26, 2022, an hour before a midnight curfew imposed by the City of Miami Beach for the South Beach area, due to two shootings in Miami Beach the previous weekend , which caused city authorities to announce a “state of emergency.” Pedro Portal [email protected]

Over Fernandez’s shoulder was a room above the Caffe Milano restaurant that 27-year-old Harp Galsi and friends from Toronto rented for Galsi’s bachelor party. They weren’t expecting to stay on a quiet street when they booked their trip.

“We came back late last night and it was like a dead zone,” Galsi said. “It was pretty scary.”

How to get a slice of pizza after curfew in South Beach

Curfew rules allow hotel guests to go out after midnight if they are leaving or returning to their hotel. For tourists in the curfew zone after midnight, South Beach is closed.

“I couldn’t even get a slice of pizza,” said Dragan Matic, 34, visiting for the weekend from Philadelphia. “I had to have it delivered by Uber.”

For Hughes, curfew rules have scrambled South Beach routines for her and her family. They are regular visitors to the Baltimore area, and Hughes said they had planned drinks at the hotel bar on the first night and then a late-night dinner on Ocean Drive.

Instead, only Hughes quickly got ready to order a drink before saying the bartender halted sales before midnight.

“We were overwhelmed,” said Mel Hoskins, Hughes’ 30-year-old daughter. For Saturday night, the younger members of the family planned to head to a club in Miami — either by party bus ($50 per person, drinks included) or Lyft.

Hughes said she planned to stay at the hotel – and wished she hadn’t booked a room in Miami Beach’s curfew zone.

“If we had known that,” she said, “we would have canceled.”

This story was originally published March 27, 2022 7:54 a.m.

Doug Hanks covers the government of Miami-Dade for the Herald. He worked at the newspaper for nearly 20 years, covering real estate, tourism and economics before joining the Metro desk in 2014.
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