Miami Beach Ready To Get Back In Business After Tough Pandemic Year

CBS4's Keith Jones shares how the city plans to get back on track.

Video Transcript

- Right now, all new at 11:00, the reopening of South Beach moves forward after a tumultuous spring break that few would care to remember. Tonight, Miami Beach leaders relieved the spring break chaos is over.

- And with more people getting vaccinated, the county curfew being eliminated, and travel demand growing, there's a lot of new hope for better months ahead. CBS4's Keith Jones has much more from the beach, all new at 11:00.

KEITH JONES: Miami-Dade County mayor plans to lift the curfew as of April 12th. Miami Beach, even despite its chaos and craziness that we've seen over spring break, plans to lift its curfew as well.

Night falls and the scene of a quieter Miami Beach plays out. Fewer on the streets, fewer at restaurants-- a far cry from two weeks ago.

- It recently has been kind of, you know, nonchalant. You know, everybody's been chilling, you know, nothing crazy. But I was here on spring break, they had to bring rubber bullets out.

KEITH JONES: But there's renewed hope, with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announcing a canceled curfew beginning April 12th. Municipalities still have the authority to supersede the mayor's order, like Miami Beach, but the Beach is eager to get back to business.

DAN GELBER: Our manager felt that we were close enough to the end of it where he could provide some relief given the fact that there's still a midnight curfew. So it was-- it's really supposed to end this weekend regardless. I think he felt like we were-- you know, from what the police department was saying-- is that we were in a much better place, obviously.

KEITH JONES: And so moving forward, Mayor Dan Gelber says the entertainment district is back. Still operating at 50%, restaurants and bars are eager to extend those hours.

FACUNDO LOPEZ: I think we'll reopen the economy because the restaurant will work more hours and it's, like, a benefit from all the tourists here.

KEITH JONES: Visitors who saw the chaos of weeks ago heard the crush of crowds have slowed to a trickle. Tourists from Venezuela took a chance to visit South Beach as a family destination.

VIONEL GIMENEZ: It's the first time and I hope that it will be quiet.

KEITH JONES: So it's been a nice experience?

VIONEL GIMENEZ: Yes.

KEITH JONES: The curfew, short hours, and the pandemic have been catastrophic for some businesses, like Gelato Go. Luigi Coppolino saw a 75% reduction in business but is starting to recuperate. Lifting the curfew offers a sense of relief.

LUIGI COPPOLINO: Finally. Finally, because-- believe me-- until now was a nightmare.

KEITH JONES: He also operates an Italian restaurant in a hotel. Hotel management decided to used the pandemic to renovate, his restaurant included.

LUIGI COPPOLINO: For this reason, it will stay closed for another couple of months, remodel everything, and then when we reopen, I think, in the end it's better for everybody.

KEITH JONES: This past spring break and the pandemic has certainly afforded Miami Beach and its administration a learning experience, one that can change the future.

DAN GELBER: We're able to deal with these kinds of crowds. We're going to continue, I think, every year to assume that we have to do something about it. I think we probably should have acted earlier this year.

KEITH JONES: Mayor Dan Gelber still has his vision of turning this entertainment district from the wild crazy place that it can be sometimes into a residential, restaurant, retail, and an art district-- one that's enticing to family destinations. Not just for tourists, but for all of South Florida. In Miami Beach, Keith Jones, CBS4 News tonight.