What spring breakers need to know about partying on South Beach, 2021-style



In February, a frustrated Miami Beach mayor called the South Beach party district area “ungovernable” due to an increase in crime. Then there’s the spring break crush that in the best of times can be a headache. Add the lingering coronavirus pandemic that doused part of last year’s festivities and the spread of new variants of COVID-19 in South Florida.

Despite an increase in COVID vaccinations, spring break 2021 could still be a full-on migraine for the “Billion Dollar Sandbar,” to coin the title of a 1970 biography on Miami Beach’s history.

There’s more.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says, in effect, “come on down” to visitors. The governor blocked local governments from enforcing some public health orders, such as closing bars or restricting restaurant capacity. Miami Beach and other municipalities can still enforce mask rules on businesses but are prohibited from targeting individuals with penalties.

“Ungovernable?”

Not exactly. Miami Beach commissioners and the city’s police have a seven-week “Vacation Responsibly” plan that went into effect on Feb. 22 and ends April 12. Expect more police officers, code compliance staffers and fire rescue crews, along with “Goodwill ambassadors” to be out and about, according to a city memo.

What spring breakers need to know

You can’t drink alcohol on any of Miami Beach’s public beaches.

Live or amplified music will be kept down in volume. So bass-rockin’ beats? Not this year and that includes the area surrounding properties from Ninth Street to 11th Street on the west side of Ocean Drive.

Local access restrictions will be enforced on some city streets to limit traffic to residents and people going to businesses.

Capacity limits will be placed on high-traffic public beaches.

Coolers, inflatable devices, tents, tables and similar objects will be prohibited from public beaches.

“License Plate Reader” police details will be placed on access points to Miami Beach, including the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways.

Promoters won’t be issued business tax receipts to hold dance or entertainment events at any establishment that serves alcohol in the Art Deco Cultural District or on parts of Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue between Fifth and 16th streets, including Española Way.

The suspension and closure of all or part of sidewalk café operations in the Art Deco Cultural District at midnight every night and the removal of sidewalk café furniture.

People enjoy the beautiful weather on Ocean Drive on March 2, 2021. The City of Miami Beach has implemented the ‘Vacation Responsibly’ campaign advising spring breakers of zero tolerance rules for public drunkenness, street fights, theft of any kind and illegal drug use.

People enjoy the beautiful weather on Ocean Drive on March 2, 2021. The City of Miami Beach has implemented the ‘Vacation Responsibly’ campaign advising spring breakers of zero tolerance rules for public drunkenness, street fights, theft of any kind and illegal drug use.

Curfew remains

The Miami-Dade curfew, enforced in Miami Beach, remains in place from midnight to 6 a.m.

All retail “package” liquor sales halt in the city after 10 p.m. and after 8 p.m. in the Art Deco District.

Traffic plan

Keep “cruising” to memories of the words from the old Smokey Robinson hit song from your parents’ or grandparents’ generation. Miami Beach police’s traffic plan is aimed at reducing cruising around the neighborhood known as South of Fifth Street. The traffic plan will be activated every weekend in March.

Motorists can access the neighborhood only via Alton Road and Washington Avenue. Police officers will be assigned to the two designated neighborhood entrances. Private security will be assigned to all other traffic posts. This area, lined by condos, was the setting for a car-drifting demonstration in December that went viral on social media and had many residents steaming.

A police detail checking license plates will be positioned along the Fifth Street corridor on weekends to screen incoming traffic. If necessary, the MacArthur Causeway will close to incoming traffic.

Parking

A flat parking rate of $20 per vehicle at all city parking garages in the Art Deco Cultural District is on tap, except for access card holders. This includes garages at Seventh Street and Collins Avenue, 12th Street and Washington Avenue, 13th Street and Collins Avenue and the Anchor Garage on 16th Street.

These garages will operate at 50% capacity so if you thought it was hard to find a parking place before, well guess what …

And once you’re parked, stay. Or go. But no in and out will be allowed. The $20 rate is good for a single entrance and exit. Once each garage reaches 50% capacity, security will limit access to card holders, city residents, area hotel guests and area employees. ID will be required.

On-street parking will be prohibited along Collins Avenue in the Art Deco District. On-street parking between Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive and Fifth and 15th Streets will be residents-only with a Residential Zone 5 parking permit.

Boat charters and party boats

The U.S. Coast Guard and Miami Beach’s Marine Patrol will enforce local, state and federal laws governing vessel operations to thwart illegal charters — an ongoing problem. Over the recent Presidents’ Day weekend the Coast Guard busted eight illegal charters from Miami Beach to the Tampa Bay area, for instance.

The Miami Beach Marina will be staffed 24-7 by a code officer to crack down on party boats.

COVID safety measures

The governor’s ruling may make it harder to bust you for not wearing a mask, but c’mon, wear one and maintain social distance as much as possible, especially indoors. Why risk getting sick or making someone else sick? COVID is no fun, even for spring break-age college students.

For more information, visit www.mbspringbreak.com.

Miami Herald staff writer Martin Vassolo contributed to this story.





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