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Miami Beach visitors party while residents comply with virus curbs

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: A few blocks from the Miami Beach Convention Centre, where an emergency field hospital stands ready to treat a potential tidal wave of Covid-19 patients, it is party-on along the resort city's famed Ocean Drive.

Social media has shown maskless revellers dancing in the street and crowding shoulder-to-shoulder in the outdoor seating areas of restaurants.

"It's a tale of two cities," said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

"Our residents are pretty compliant, but our visitors have been spotty and there are areas of the city where it feels like the only people there are those who don't think there's a virus."

Florida is fast becoming the epicentre of a second wave of the outbreak in the US.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed over 9,000 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to over 290,000. An additional 133 deaths pushed the statewide total past 4,500.

In South Florida, hospital officials have reported emergency rooms and intensive care units nearing capacity. On Sunday, Florida reported more than 15,000 cases - a new state daily record.

But a group of mask-and-bikini-clad vacationers from New York City said that was not enough to discourage them.

"We know there's a pandemic going on but it's not like you're not going to live your life," said Ms Tamia Young, a 36-year-old postal worker visiting from Brooklyn with her mother and two daughters.

The number of closures has increased in recent days, as partially opened businesses began testing their employees for the coronavirus.

The Clevelander, a hotel best known for its all-day parties, reopened on June 18 but closed on Monday after an employee tested positive.

Miami Beach officials are planning an increased police presence across the city, in the hope of dispersing crowds and ensuring social distancing, mask wearing and restaurant compliance with restrictions. - REUTERS

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