The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has a large list of effects, and the sudden urge for thousands of people to party during their spring breaks in Miami Beach only makes that list even longer.
On March 20, Miami Beach officials announced a countywide 8 p.m. curfew, aiming to minimize the crowds of restless partygoers that have flocked to Florida for spring break. This influx was seemingly sparked due to the restrictions placed because of the coronavirus, causing many to lose vacation plans over the last year.
But, as with most COVID-19 restrictions, many did not abide by them, as the same mask-less groups of people caused destruction to many Miami Beach restaurant owners and locals the day after. Why can’t people just stay home?
I spoke to a friend about this who has travelled to Miami Beach over the past week and another time earlier in the month, and I asked him for his perspective.
“My sister lives there, and I felt like I needed to do something,” he said. “I feel like the last year of my life was taken away, you know? I just wanted to have fun.”
What many with this mindset do not realize is that more time from their lives will be taken away if they do not abide by the restrictions laid out. Travelling is known to cause an increase in cases. Florida saw an increase from almost 3000 cases per day on March 22 to now almost 5000-6000 cases each day since then. This is a direct result of the influx of tourists over the past week, and all it does is further prolong the pandemic and restrictions that are “taking their life away.”
What is more disappointing is the fact that Miami advertisers spent $5 million on a campaign to promote tourism, their biggest national advertising campaign in 20 years, according to AP News. They are partially at fault for the increase in tourism, as this greedy attempt to recoup money lost from the pandemic directly encourages people to travel during a global pandemic. However, the responsibility greatly falls on the people buying into this.
The vacationers are solely to blame for this. Advertising might entice them, but most of these people are full-grown adults, and the responsibility of upholding COVID-19 restrictions should override any desire to travel. This does not excuse the thousands of out-of-state adult tourists causing mayhem in a place where they do not live.
Along with the 8 p.m. curfew, officials banned alcohol from the beach, disallowed the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and sent threatening messages telling tourists to “Vacation Responsibly or Be Arrested,” according to AP News.
Miami Beach needs to enforce a stricter curfew, and it has done this to an extent. It has employed military vehicles and armored police officers to make arrests on those breaking curfew, but this was done days after many tourists already caused property damage to the same restaurants that benefit from them after losing money.
This should have come immediately, especially since the crowds seem to mainly be out-of-state tourists mindlessly gathering, thinking that anything goes. The laughably threatening messages do not deter anyone, and the curfew does not do anything unless it is enforced by the personnel they employed.
Tourist spots around the country need to take what happened in Miami Beach as an example to immediately enforce strict guidelines to slow down the progression of the pandemic. People may oppose them, but allowing your community to be continuously destroyed before any action from officials simply brews more conflict.
People just need to have patience. The more they travel and break COVID-19 guidelines, the more their life gets taken away. Ways to maintain the virus are progressing, evident in the increasing number of vaccinations, so why not just postpone that trip to Miami when there are no restrictions in the near future?