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Spring breakers get stern warning from Fort Lauderdale down to Miami Beach

“Our concern here is that they’re coming down here to let loose in ways that is not going to be appreciated or tolerated,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Law enforcement officials in South Florida are warning the public about rules and restrictions that are in place this year to keep beaches safe and enjoyable for all over the next few weeks during spring break.

Fort Lauderdale Interim Assistant Police Chief Frank Sousa told reporters Thursday that despite the pandemic, officers will take precautions for the anticipated large crowds.

“We will have safety lanes along the beach. We utilized those last year with the onset of COVID and it proved to be successful,” Sousa said. “There’s going to be barricades set along A1A here to ensure we have safe pedestrian walkways.”

Spring break season in Broward County is expected to kick off on Saturday, Feb. 28, and will continue through Sunday, April 18. In Miami-Dade, officials say the “high impact period” will be from Feb. 22 through April 12.

A spokeswoman for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport said they are “seeing signs of potential increased flight activity for March and April versus February’s performance based on current airline scheduling trends likely due to spring break or winter-weary travelers seeking warm-weather escapes.”

“In March, we’re expecting an average of 63 more daily departures and 101 more in April than February, which saw an average of 246 daily departures,” the spokeswoman said in an email. “This projected uptick in FLL flight activity could be impacted last-minute by changes in booking trends or new COVID-19-related travel restrictions and, as such, may not materialize as forecasted.”

Broward County Mayor Steve Geller said last week that a large party scene is exactly what local officials don’t want this year and warned visitors that it will not be tolerated.

“Don’t expect that’s going to be happening. Don’t expect you’re going to be dancing in the bars until 4 a.m. elbow to elbow,” he said.

Police said ride share drivers will be issued citations if they pick up or drop off passengers along State Road A1A.

The designated pickup/drop off location will be at Las Olas Oceanside Park at 3000 E. Las Olas Blvd.

Hotel employees told Local 10 News that they are expecting large crowds of people considering the cold temperatures in other states.

“We’re just asking for cooperation from everybody,” Sousa said. “We understand there’s a lot of angst to get out and enjoy our beautiful weather and our beautiful beach, so we’re just asking for cooperation from our college students that do decide to come to Fort Lauderdale, and we’re also asking for some patience in light of the pandemic that is still ongoing and very much a real concern for us today.”

The county is working with businesses that serve alcohol, encouraging them to abide by masking and social distancing rules and drafting a resolution that would allow them to put a curfew in place quickly if widespread violations are found.

Below are some of the municipal ordinances relevant to spring break. Violators may be arrested or issued a notice to appear before a judge.

More information can be found by visiting https://library.municode.com/fl/fort_lauderdale.

• Possessing/serving/giving an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21

• Refusing to leave or returning to an establishment after being warned

• Possessing or displaying fraudulent identification card

• Possessing an open container of alcohol within a public place which is not an enclosed structure

• Causing a public disturbance while intoxicated

• Engaging in physical fighting or in violent, threatening behavior

• Public indecency; exposing sexual organs or female’s breasts

Police said the following measures will also be enforced while on beach property from the 900 block of Seabreeze north to the 1700 block of North A1A. Beach property is defined as the area between the water line and the westernmost sidewalk of State Road A1A within the City of Fort Lauderdale.

• The prohibition of tents, tables, and similar structures

• The limitation of live or amplified music

NO ALCOHOL: Prohibition of possessing or consuming alcohol on the beach property.

According to authorities, electric or motorized scooters and other dockless mobility programs are prohibited on the barrier island during the spring break period.

Drivers who frequent the area are urged to seek alternate modes of transportation, such as public transportation of bicycling, during spring break due to the increase in visitors.

Similar concerns on Miami Beach

On Miami Beach, the message is “vacation responsibly” or be arrested.

City leaders say there will be zero tolerance for street fights, theft or illegal drug use.

“We’re worried about what’s going to happen,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said. “Our concern here is that they’re coming down here to let loose in ways that is not going to be appreciated or tolerated.”

Because of COVID-19, Miami Beach still has a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m.

Below is a list of measures in place in Miami-Dade County for spring break:

  • All direct or indirect consumption of alcohol will be prohibited on public beaches.
  • The limitation of live or amplified music, including suspension of the noise exemption in City Code Section 46-157 for those properties located from 9 Street to 11 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.

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.

Annaliese Garcia joined Local 10 News in January 2020. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism. She began her career at Univision. Before arriving at Local 10, she was with NBC2 (WBBH-TV) covering Southwest Florida. She's glad to be back in Miami!