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Mayor Proposes Permanent Midnight Last-Call on South Beach

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber want to change last call from 5 a.m. to midnight when bars eventually reopen 

Fourth Of July Weekend In Florida Sees Some Beaches Open, Some Closed, As Coronavirus Cases Spike Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Miami Beach’s South Beach neighborhood might be getting a revamp if Mayor Dan Gelber has his way. Yesterday Gelber proposed a new “South Beach Reimagined” plan that would change last call from 5 a.m. to midnight for all establishments in the area — unless approved for an extension by a newly created Beverage Control Board. Additionally, standalone bars would no longer be permitted in the neighborhood unless inside a hotel, liquor sales at grocery stores or liquor stores would stop at 5 p.m. daily, and it would make Ocean Drive a permanently pedestrian-only area.

“The current Entertainment District has become too difficult and costly to police and, equally important, too inconsistent with our brand,” added Gelber in the proposal.

The Entertainment District, while not explicitly defined in this proposal, traditionally runs from Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue between Fifth and 16th Streets. For bars and restaurants in the area that want to stay open past the proposed midnight last call time, they would have to apply through the new Beverage Control Board, which would be appointed by the city commission, and implement extra requirements like paying for police on-site and agreeing not to host promoted parties. The board also would have the right to revoke any time extensions they grant.

The new proposal also wants to elevate Ocean Drive to be on the same level as the sidewalks, which are currently at a lower elevation, and make it a permanent pedestrian-only street, allowing for restaurants and hotels to expand and create more “outdoor dining experiences” in the area. However, the proposal states that “no music can be audible outside the confines of each individual property along Ocean Drive.”

Gelber wants to transform the area into the “Art Deco Cultural District” and put a focus on “businesses that promote arts, culture and wellness — like galleries, museums, and wellness centers.”

“When we emerge from this pandemic, and we will emerge, we should have a different kind of South Beach. A better one. Just as vibrant and iconic, but also cultural and safe. A South Beach for everyone,” Gelber said in his video address yesterday when he debuted the plan.

This isn’t the first time Gelber has proposed rollbacks on last call for South Beach. In 2017, voters rejected a ballot measure that would have put a 2 a.m. last call on businesses on Ocean Drive, and earlier this year the commission put into effect a 3 a.m. curfew during Spring Break. The proposal is expected to receive its first vote in front of the full commission on September 16, and would need a second full vote by the commission for it to become a law.

The Entertainment District neighborhood on Miami Beach is currently under a nightly 8 p.m. curfew — two hours earlier than the rest of the county — after many businesses in the area came under scrutiny for not practicing proper social distancing and capacity measures put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Florida continues to be a hotspot for the pandemic with 10,249 positive cases reported today, with 2,723 being in Miami-Dade County.