The City of Miami Beach imposed an 8 p.m. curfew in its busiest entertainment district on Saturday in an effort to control hordes of spring break vacationers who have become unruly in recent days.
The move followed weeks of wild partying in Miami Beach, which is no stranger to uncontrollable spring break crowds.
"These crowds are in the thousands", Aguila told the paper.
The curfew, announced as part of a State of Emergency declaration made at 4 p.m., included the closure of bars and clubs on jam-packed Ocean Drive. Far more college students turned up than expected.
"There has to be an element there", said Clements, "of either the crowd fighting or coming at officers".
The coronavirus pandemic has added another layer to spring break concerns.
Some people responded by jumping on top of cars, twerking and throwing money into the air.
No pedestrians or vehicles will be allowed to enter the restricted area after 8pm and all businesses must close.
Though this year's crowds have been large, the mostly pale in comparison to the swell of visitors the city has received the past few decades during Memorial Day Weekend. By Thursday, the crowds were growing, fights were breaking out, setting off risky stampedes of people fleeing for safety. "I think it changes the nature of what we're in front of here".
After gunshots were fired, a young woman cut her leg so badly in a stampede that she was transported to the hospital where they initially thought she had been shot, police said. "We have to do some things that are going to mitigate those circumstances", he said.
But this year "the mayor is clearly higher than in previous years", said Mayor Dan Gelber.
Meanwhile, Gelber said he will hold an emergency meeting with the City Commission on Sunday to address the measures, The Hill reported.
Aguila said Florida's lax Covid-19 rules have encouraged people from outside the state to visit. Florida has no statewide mask rules, limits on capacity or other such restrictions, courtesy of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' pro-business stance.
"I think this is partly due to the fact that some places are open in the rest of the country, they are either too cold, or they are closed and too cold".
SWAT officers in bullet-proof vests disperse pepper spray balls to break up rowdy spring break crowds. Apart from the fistfight that occurred, the overwhelming and out-of-control spring breakers are the reason why officials of the city have pushed for the earlier curfew.
Local officials and businesses have struggled to balance courting tourists to boost the economy while doing so safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Clements said the tactics his officers have used to break up spring break crowds have been because of violent and risky behavior and has nothing to do with the global pandemic. The city has also spent its biggest national advertising campaign in 20 years because of this.