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Miami Beach hotel pauses food service amid Covid-19 fears after throngs of people descend on the city

The Clevelander South Beach, one of Miami Beach’s most iconic hotels, announced Friday that it will temporarily halt its food and beverage operations out of concern for the spread of coronavirus as crowds throng the city.

“Recently, we have grown increasingly concerned with the safety of our dedicated employees and valued customers and the ability of the City to maintain a safe environment in the surrounding area,” the hotel said in a message on its website and on social media.

“Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily close the food and beverage operations” until at least March 24, hotel management said in its message.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said earlier this week that there are too many people visiting the city.

“We have too many people that want to just let loose in ways that are unacceptable,” Gelber told Jim Scuitto on CNN Newsroom Tuesday.

While Covid-19 cases had been declining recently, health experts are worried that the country could be on the brink of another surge as a variant spreads that is more transmissible than the original virus — and perhaps more deadly.

Miami police ramped up staffing on February 3 “to cover Super Bowl weekend, President’s Day weekend, and then we rolled straight into Spring Break staffing,” Ernesto Rodriguez, spokesman for Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD), said in a summary this week.

Since February 3, officers have made more than 900 arrests in the city, “more than 300 of which were for felony offenses,” the summary said. “At least 50% off those arrested reside outside of Florida.”

Rodriguez told CNN on Saturday that “at least two dozen arrests” were made on Thursday, and on “Friday, at least a dozen.”

Miami-Dade police have been assisting MBPD since Tuesday because of the crowds, Rodriguez said.

Florida Highway Patrol officers were also assisting with traffic control on the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle Causeways, bridges which connect the island city to the mainland, MBPD said in a tweet Friday.

Other agencies assisting with safety efforts include Coral Gables Police Department and the Miami Dade Department of Corrections, according to Rodriguez.

The Clevelander said management “will re-evaluate the situation over the coming days and decide whether to re-open or remain temporarily closed.”

Employees will “be paid their full salary” while the dining and bar areas are closed, the hotel said.

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