FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The coronavirus pandemic is a top concern as spring breakers begin flocking to South Florida.
A mounted patrol unit from the Fort Lauderdale Police department was part of the visible enforcement along the city’s beach this weekend. It’s an area experiencing a rising number of visitors ahead of the peak of spring break season.
“Last year because of COVID I really didn’t go anywhere so I was like, ‘We’re going somewhere now,’” said Carly Mitchel, who was visiting from Kansas City.
Barricades have been put up along A1A in Fort Lauderdale as authorities prep for crowd control measures.
Despite a near year-long pandemic, traffic has also increased along the popular tourist strip.
On Miami Beach, tourists are keeping businesses busy, although police reported very few disruptions over the weekend.
Also, the City of Miami PD Bike Patrol unit is noticeably more visible.
While the crowds are growing by the weekend, hotel occupancy rates in Miami-Dade are down by more than 27 percent when compared to this time last year.
Even though the city has pulled the plug on any official events, people are still showing up.
“I had taken actions to cancel Spring Break programming for this year,” said Miami Beach City Manager Raul Aguila. “I just don’t think it’s the year to roll that out.”
Meanwhile, the spring breakers said Florida has a reputation for being more relaxed in its COVID-19 restrictions than other places around the country.
“Everybody keeps saying COVID doesn’t exist down here in Florida,” Mitchel said with a laugh.