Miami Beach (United States) (AFP)
The U.S. city of Miami Beach, overrun by crowds of excited tourists over spring break, extended its state of emergency as it struggles to contain chaos amid the coronavirus pandemic, with hundreds of arrests .
On Sunday, commissioners authorized city director Raul Aguila to keep the emergency in place until April 13, when the annual college vacation period that draws thousands of students to the small offshore island ends. of Miami, in South Florida.
A city spokeswoman told AFP on Monday that the extension would be in one-week increments.
Every year the crowds are problematic, but this time they seem much larger than normal, which Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber attributes to tourists looking to flee the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have little other options.
He also speculated that the prices of hotels and plane tickets, both reduced by the pandemic, and the fact that many are arriving from neighboring states, had contributed to the chaos.
“These are not your spring breakers,” Aguila said.
Videos and photos on social media show half-naked women twerking on the roofs of cars, men offering them wads of cash and a crowd of tourists huddled side by side, dancing and passing bottles from hand to hand – no more fights, shots fired in the air and encounters with the police.
Since February 3, 80 weapons have been confiscated and 1,000 arrests, including 350 for crimes, says the city decree.
On Saturday, Aguila imposed a nighttime curfew on the most touristy streets of South Beach, the epicenter of the party, and ordered the closure of the three bridges that connect the island to Miami from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
But the measures, which are valid from Thursday to Monday, are not easy to implement.
On Saturday and Sunday evenings, footage was seen of dozens of police cars attempting to expel the crowds of revelers, sometimes throwing pepper spray projectiles.
Meanwhile, bridges – to which only residents, workers, and hotel guests have access at night – have seen endless lines due to slow checks, and some residents have taken hours to cross a stretch of 10 minutes.
The island of just 92,000 people attracts 200,000 visitors and workers every day, Gelber said last week.
© 2021 AFP