Spring Breakers Take Over Florida amid COVID Pandemic: 'We're Very Concerned,' Miami Beach Mayor Says

·3 min read

TNS via ZUMA Wire Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale, FL on Thursday

Some warm-weather cities are worried that spring breakers could lead to new COVID-19 outbreaks, nearly a year after the onset of the pandemic cut 2020's spring break season short.

On Friday, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber appeared on CNN's New Day and said the city is "very concerned" about vacationers, especially as Miami-Dade county averages more than 1,000 new COVID cases a day and different variants of virus continue to crop up.

"A lot of things are happening simultaneously," Gelber said. "You have the variant down here, and we still are having sometimes dozens of deaths a day in our county."

"And at the same time, we've got incredibly cheap round-trip tickets for 40 bucks from anywhere in the Northeast down here, discounted rooms and people who have been really pent up and wanting to get out with no other place to go than here," he continued. "So we are very worried that there's going to be a convergence of people here and a real problem in the aftermath of that."

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

RELATED: CDC Director Says U.S. Could 'Completely Lose' Progress with COVID-19 as More Variants Continue to Spread

Despite some colleges canceling spring break, Miami Beach Police told CBS News that students from more than 200 schools are expected to head to the city this season, with the largest crowds taking place right now.

Gelber said on CNN that he is most concerned that gatherings at bars "might become the kinds of super-spreaders that I think we saw a year ago" and noted that police officers are handing out face masks in the absence of a mask mandate from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"I would love to have the governor's voice urging people to be responsible, but we really don't have that right now," Gelber said. "Since we opened everything up and didn't allow us to impose a mask mandate, there has been a massive amount of suffering."

Michele Eve Sandberg/Shutterstock Spring Breakers in Miami on Saturday

RELATED: Biden Says Texas and Mississippi Lifting COVID Restrictions Is 'Neanderthal Thinking'

Michele Eve Sandberg/Shutterstock Spring Breakers in Miami on Saturday

Meanwhile, photos from nearby Fort Lauderdale, first published by the Sun-Sentinel, show people packed into outdoor bars, without a mask in sight.

"I was here two years ago and came back to see what it's like now with COVID," a visitor from Michigan, 21-year-old Jack Gumeinny, told the outlet. "Florida hasn't skipped a beat."

Steve Geller, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale's Broward County, said he "will take action" to curb the partying if the city doesn't.

"We're in the middle of a pandemic," Geller told the Sun Sentinel. "I'm not opposed to college kids having fun — just not in the middle of a pandemic."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.