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South Beach state of emergency extended due to spring break crowds

Miami Beach commissioners decided Sunday to extend its state of emergency in South Beach through April 12 after the city dealt with large crowds of spring breakers. 

The Miami Beach City Commission unanimously voted to stretch its 8 p.m. curfew in South Beach’s entertainment district and 10 p.m. closures of eastbound lanes on three causeways every Thursday through Sunday until April 12, the Miami Herald reported.  

The decision reached during the commissioners’ emergency meeting allows restaurants to stay open for deliveries until 6 a.m., although outdoor seating must shut down at 8 p.m.

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Under the regulations, residents, hotel guests and local business employees are exempt from the closures on the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways. Only residents will be permitted on the Venetian causeway during the restricted hours.

The restrictions come after interim City Manager Raul Aguila instituted the curfew and road closures on Saturday to “contain the overwhelming crowd of visitors and the potential for violence, disruption and damage to property,” according to the Herald. 

Without the commissioners’ approval, Aguila could not extend the limitations beyond 72 hours.

Crowds have flocked to Miami Beach as spring breaks across the country take place, prompting the city to announce a state of emergency Saturday and institute the restrictions unrelated to COVID-19 constraints. 

Miami Beach police have made more than 1,000 arrests since Feb. 3, with more than 350 of those for felony offenses, NBC News’s affiliate in South Florida reported. Officials have also seized more than 80 firearms, and at least five officers have been injured.

Last week, authorities dispersed a crowd of about 200 people by shooting pepper balls.

City officials have also said they worry about COVID-19 spread as crowds congregate with many not wearing masks.