Florida beach hotspot bans spring breakers as Florida prepares for influx amid pandemic

Thousands expected in state over next two weeks

James Crump@thejamescrump
Saturday 06 March 2021 16:07
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A Florida beach hotspot has banned out-of-state spring breakers who are under the age of 23, as thousands of partygoers are expected to travel to the state amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Wharf in Fort Lauderdale made the announcement on Friday, and confirmed that anyone from out-of-state under the age of 23 will be banned from its venue until the end of March.

“With the anticipated influx of college-age students visiting from out of state, we believe this is the responsible thing to do to protect our guests and staff from the spread of Covid-19, as well as to help keep our doors open long term,” the venue said in a statement about the decision, while confirming that the restriction does not apply to its location in Miami.

Partygoers started arriving in Florida on Friday and flocked to beaches and bars, despite officials in the state raising concerns about an influx of visitors amid the pandemic.

Some local officials are concerned that the situation could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases, as was the case after last year’s Spring Break, which took place at the beginning of the pandemic.

“We could potentially see a truly outsized spring break at a time when the last thing we want are major gatherings,” mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach told the Wall Street Journal.

While Miami Beach’s interim city manager Raul Aguila warned: “If you are coming here with an anything-goes party attitude, change your flight reservation now and go to Vegas,” before adding: “Miami Beach is not going to tolerate anarchy.”

Curfews have been put in place for Miami beaches, while steel barriers have been erected between bars in Fort Lauderdale in order to enforce social distancing.

Schools across the US cancelled Spring Break this year due to concerns that students would flock to sunny parts of the country, possibly bringing Covid-19 with them.

However, images from Friday showed large groups of young people partying maskless and not socially distancing at Florida beaches and bars.

In September last year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning local governments from shutting down bars and restaurants, protecting their right to remain open at at least 50 per cent capacity.

He also barred authorities from fining people not wearing face masks, meaning Spring Breakers are able to party nearly as normal despite the pandemic.

In order to help stop any potential spread of Covid-19, the number of police patrolling beaches in Florida have been increased, with alcohol banned in Miami and social distancing encouraged across the state.

Since the start of the pandemic, Florida has recorded more than 1.94 million coronavirus cases and at least 31,521 deaths.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 28.8 million people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 522,872.

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