Spring break party plans have been put on pause, as Miami Beach officials work to curb COVID cases.
“Is this the year we want to roll out our first-ever pilot program?” said Miami Beach interim city manager Raul Aguila.
“Our city doesn’t usually sponsor spring break, but we have been trying to control it better,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
Gelber said one way they were considering controlling the spring break chaos better pre-pandemic was by setting up their own events.
The city was looking into the idea of hosting a festival organized by Tom Bercu Presents, which is an event production company.
The month-long event would take place in and around Lummus Park and the beachfront areas, from Seventh Street to 11th Street and consists of movies on the beach, concerts, dance parties and much more.
But as COVID cases continue to climb in South Florida, the city’s board of commissioners decided this wasn’t the year for it.
“This year, we clearly don’t want to promote any events that create large gatherings, anything that could create a super-spreader,” Gelber said.
In December, it was recommended that the city commission move forward with the festival concept, but this week the interim city manager said in a memo, “My recommendation would be not to proceed with the Tom Bercu pilot program this year.”
The memo goes on to say, “I think our resources might be better served by allotting additional funding toward enforcement rather than programming.”
And the commission agreed, unanimously voting to halt the more than $1 million pilot program.
“Although we talked about programming spring break for a long time, this isn’t the right year to do it in the middle of a pandemic,” said commissioner Michael Gongora.
One South Beach bartender we spoke with said businesses have been struggling this year and thinks the board should have moved forward with the festival, but with COVID-19 restrictions.
“I think we need to take care to wear masks. We need to wash our hands and everything,” said Martin Leiva.
While the city will not be hosting an event this year, with hundreds of nearby colleges still expected to have spring break, the mayor said if things get out of control, beach closures and expanded curfews are still a possibility.
“If we’re having trouble with enforcement, I don’t know that anything’s off the table,” Gelber said.
The mayor said some of the more extreme restrictions, like beach closures and expanded curfews, would have to be a game-time decision, and would only happen if things got out of hand on Miami Beach.
The city commission is still planning on looking at the proposal for the Tom Bercu pilot program for 2022.