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'This Area Has Now Become A Crime Zone': Miami Beach Business Owners, Residents Have Had Enough Of Spring Break Crowds

MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Everyone who lives or works in Miami Beach is hoping for a much calmer week and weekend ahead. Still, the tumultuous couple of days of spring break trouble has been more than enough for some people.

Faced with a pandemic and unruly crowds packing Miami Beach's entertainment district, the city's mayor said extended curfews and causeway closures are needed to keep the peace and people safe.

"Well, it feels in some ways like our city is a tinder right now. It's not just about not wearing masks and physical distancing, it's also some of the folks that are coming are coming with bad intention, so there's been brawls and even gunplay. And when you have these levels of crowds, you can't really manage, unless you have enormous policing and all that mixed creates a lot of peril and a lot of concern, and I do worry," said Mayor Dan Gelber.

Some people who live on Miami Beach said they've never seen a spring break like this.

John Walter, who lives in South Beach, said Sunday night, when police pushed the crowds off Ocean Drive due to the new 8 p.m. curfew, a group moved a few blocks away to his neighborhood off Meridian Avenue.

"People were walking up and down the parked cars," he said. "My neighbor's kids were screaming. When the police showed up, people started running towards our building. My neighbor and I sat on the floor and put our feet on the staircase to try and block them from coming in."

Mitch Novick, who has been the owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel for more than 21 years said the crime on South Beach has caused him to keep his doors shut.

"I have been closed since April and refuse to reopen. This area has now become a crime zone," said Novick.

He said he won't be reopening the hotel any time soon.

"I advise my guest or former guests to find alternative routes. This is a complete failure of our elected officials. This has become a carnival, like circus on the street," said Novick.

However, Sherbrooke Hotel isn't the only business put on hold.  On Friday, the Clevelander South Beach announced they would temporarily close.

The city's mayor has since extended curfews and causeway closures are in place.

The curfews for Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue and Espanola Way from 5 through 16 Streets last from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m.

As for keeping out incoming traffic, the Julia Tuttle, Venetian MacArthur Causeway will close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The curfew and causeway closures will be in effect Thursdays through Sundays through April 12.

Romain Zago, owner of Mynt Restaurant and Lounge, said the curfews and closures are only hurting their business.

"It's not good for our image, not good for our city, not good for no one. This is not the solution. It affects not only the entertainment business, it affects everyone else. Saturday night we lost half our reservations because they were stuck on the causeway. It is not fair," said Zago.

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