Thousands flock to Ocean Drive after Clevelander temporarily closes dining due to safety concerns – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

MIAMI BEACH, FL. (WSVN) – Thousands of revelers packed Ocean Drive to kick off what police said was the busiest weekend of spring break, but a popular spot will remain closed to diners due to security concerns.

7News cameras captured thousands of people along the 700 block of Ocean Drive just after 10 p.m. Friday.

About a block north, a large crowd of mostly maskless revelers were seen strolling down the iconic street while police watched from across the street.

A 7News team spotted a Miami Beach Police prisoner van waiting, in case a situation got out of control.

Hours earlier, The Clevelander South Beach announced on Friday that it would temporarily halt restaurant operations.

On Friday afternoon, cameras captured empty tables and folded umbrellas at the Clevelander. The entrance to the dining room was blocked.

“Recently, we have become increasingly concerned about the safety of our dedicated employees and valued guests and the City’s ability to maintain a safe environment in the surrounding area,” the hotel manager said in a letter. posted on social media. “As a result, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily close restaurant operations in Clevelander South Beach until at least March 24, 2021.”

The hotel said it will reassess over the next few days and decide whether to reopen or remain temporarily closed.

Their concerns likely stem from several incidents in Miami Beach over the past few days.

Cellphone video showed the end of a stampede on Ocean Drive on Friday night as people fled. Several women screamed as they fled to safety.

The stampede happened after a large group of people gathered near Wet Willie’s.

On Thursday night, police used pepper spray to break up a fight outside a restaurant, sending spring breakers to cover.

Cellphone video showed customers of Jalapeño Mexican Kitchen on the 500 block of Ocean Drive as they got under tables.

Before the situation escalated into chaos, revelers filled Ocean Drive between Eighth and Ninth Streets.

When the fight broke out and the police intervened, nearby restaurants were hit hard. The video showed thrown and broken furniture and glassware, and checks that had not been paid.

A man was also killed following a shooting on Monday evening.

Police have stepped up their efforts to crack down on crime in the city, including bringing in officers from other departments.

“We are at the height of spring break, with this weekend expected to be the busiest of weeks,” Miami Beach Police Officer Ernesto Rodriguez said. “A lot of additional reinforcements in terms of police activity here in Miami Beach, so a lot of measures in place to curb any criminal activity, tame the crowds and encourage people who are here to behave responsibly. Otherwise, the message is clear: you will be arrested.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said he was disturbed by the recent incidents captured on video.

“We’re just going to have to deal with it as best we can. I hate seeing the videos,” he said.

Ultimately, Gelber said, he wants to end the Entertainment District, but for now his focus is on mastering spring break.

“I want people to know that we have a lot of officers here, and we don’t warn people. We arrest them,” he said.

At least two dozen people were arrested Thursday evening.

“In the past five and a half weeks, we’ve seen over 900 arrests,” Rodriguez said.

Miami Beach has requested assistance from the Florida Highway Patrol. Video showed soldiers on the east side of MacArthur Causeway Friday night.

Hours later, cameras showed blocked traffic along the westbound lanes of Fifth Street just before the causeway.

Officials said they were prepared to close the causeway this weekend if necessary to control the number of people heading to Miami Beach.

In his statement, the Clevelander South Beach manager wrote, “Clevelander employees have our full support and will receive full pay during this time.”

However, many of these employees depend on tips to make a living.

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