Broward County Leaders Debate Over Spring Break Restrictions

Florida spring break
Photo: Jim Crocker/Flickr

Broward County leaders are debating whether or not to impose a curfew or shutdown businesses for Spring Break.

The mayor and commission wants to avoid a repeat of last year’s events, when a series of spring break parties contributed to the jump in COVID-19 cases and the closure of beaches.

The entire South Florida region is anticipating thousands of college students looking to party, starting this week.

But Broward County Mayor Steve Gellar said he’s particularly concerned about the city of Fort Lauderdale.

“We’re still in the middle of a pandemic. We have spring break coming here and there are two things it is my desire to avoid: a super-spreader event and we’re trying to recruit national financial and tech companies, and having national pictures of crazy college kids in Fort Lauderdale partying in the middle of a pandemic will be counter-productive to our goal,” Geller said at a county commission meeting on February 23.

Mayor Geller and Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich both suggested a curfew as one of the possible restrictions for the spring break period.

But the curfew suggestion has already been shot down by the federal appeals court. Fort Lauderdale’s Mayor Dean Trantalis also disagreed with the curfew. In a letter to the county mayor, Trantalis stated that if a curfew is issued, partygoers will leave bars and continue to party in hotel rooms and Airbnbs.

Jamaican-born Broward Commissioner Dale Holness also raised the point of unregulated events and parties that will take place if a curfew is imposed.

“How we regulate and manage that is the other issue that we’ll have to deal with”, he said.

Commissioner Holness said that one restriction that the county should strongly consider is shutting down businesses that are non-compliant with COVID-19 protocols.

“Definitely the businesses that aren’t complying, they ought to be closed if they won’t follow the rules,” Holness said.

Geller said that for the spring break period, which ends in March, there will be an increased police presence along with the enforcement of social distancing and mask-wearing.

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