Thousands of people have packed the city's Art Deco Cultural District resulting in bedlam and lawlessness in recent days when university students typically celebrate spring break.
Mayor Dan Gelber told an emergency meeting of the city commission that all manner of out-of-town and out-of-state visitors, not just college students, were filling the streets since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Feb. 26 called the state an "oasis of freedom" from coronavirus restrictions. "It looked like a rock concert. All you could see was wall to wall people," City Manager Raul Aguila told the commission.
Aguila said he noticed a surge on Friday night and imposed emergency powers on Saturday to set a curfew and close streets and highways in the area.
The commission on Sunday agreed to grant Aguila the authority to extend the curfew and street closures for up to three more seven-day periods as needed, starting on Tuesday.
Gelber said the mass crowds gathered at a time when the surrounding county was experiencing 1,000 new infections of COVID-19 each day and with 50 to 100 people being hospitalized each day.