Iconic South Beach bar temporarily closes to protect staff after wild spring break nights

Scenes from South Beach show spring breakers packing the streets, many without masks and no social distancing in sight. The recent crowds have led to an iconic South Beach spot to temporarily close its doors.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Businesses in Miami Beach are taking the safety of their employees and clientele into their own hands. On Friday, the Clevelander restaurant and bar announced they will be closing until at least next week for safety reasons because of the wild spring break crowds.

The iconic Clevelander released a memo to employees Friday afternoon ensuring them they will be fully paid throughout the temporary closure.

“The situation has gotten bad enough that we don’t feel comfortable asking our employees to come into work,” explains the attorney representing the Clevelander, Alexander Tachmes. He says they will meet next week to reassess the closure.

Miami Beach Police say they’re doing everything they can to keep people safe as spring breakers have caused violence and chaos along the streets of South Beach.

News of the increased police patrol comes less than a day after a street melee on Ocean Drive between Eighth and Ninth streets prompted police officers to fire pepper balls to disperse a crowd in South Beach. Officers then detained at least three people, and Miami Beach Fire Rescue personnel responded to help the few who were injured.

Miami Beach Police Department spokesperson Officer Ernesto Rodriguez says they’re increasing their presence around the clock, and are even using police personnel from different jurisdictions to assist this month as spring break is in full swing.

Crowds continue to pack South Beach and law enforcement is bracing for the weekend

“Officers from Miami-Dade, Coral Gables, Miami Gardens, we even have the department of corrections here to assist us in transporting those arrested back over to the jail facility,” explains Rodriguez. “Along our causeways, we’ve received additional support from the Florida Highway Patrol.”

According to officials, temporarily closing the MacArthur Causeway is a possibility in the near future if the situation in Miami Beach escalates over the weekend.

“What starts off as seemingly peaceful quickly escalates and unfortunately people are getting hurt,” says Rodriguez.

“We put the measures in place to curb any criminal activity, to tame the crowds, and to encourage the people who are here to behave responsibly,” explains Rodriguez. “If not, the message is clear — you will be arrested.”

About the Author:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.