Miami Beach

Tourists Flock to Miami Beach to Celebrate New Year Despite COVID-19 Curfews, Restrictions

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Despite curfews and restrictions, crowds of tourists still flocked to Miami Beach to celebrate the New Year.

Although Ocean Drive wasn't as packed as usual, it wasn't empty either -- and restaurants saw more customers than usual.

"To be honest, it's like COVID doesn't even exist down here with the amount of people here, it's crazy," one tourist said.

But the virus does exist in South Florida -- with a more contagious strain being found just 90 minutes away, in Martin County.

Experts say the new strain is 70 percent more contagious.

"It does mean that if you’re in a situation where someone has this virus your odds now of getting infected have now gone up," said Dr. Aileen Marty, an epidemiologist with Florida International University.

While many celebrations were virtual this year, some restaurants -- like Rivertail in Fort Lauderdale -- drew a large crowd.

The scene was also busy at Riverside Wharf, despite the state setting a grim milestone Thursday with more than 17,000 new cases.

"We came here knowing we'd be at risk," said Danielle Dovinson, who contracted the virus in August along with Jonah Pfeil.

"Lost taste and smell. I had like body aches and headaches for like three or four days."

Despite traveling to a hot spot, some say they feel safe as long as they follow the rules.

"We're wearing a mask, we're trying to practice social distancing," said Stephen Cropper.

Christopher Bitter shares a similar sentiment.

"We’re just kind of sticking with our own group and we all live with each other. We’re just kind of sticking with ourselves."

Despite people being out, there is still a curfew in effect which starts at midnight.

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