Florida Keys officials Sunday night announced they are targeting June 1 to reopen the destination to visitors following the island chain’s closure to tourists on March 22 to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
The easing of visitor restrictions is to coincide with the planned June 1 suspension of checkpoints on two roads leading from the South Florida mainland to the Keys. In addition, plans call for arriving passenger screenings at Key West International and Florida Keys Marathon International airports to be suspended, as well.
Lodging is to be limited to 50 percent of standard occupancy during the beginning stages of reopening. Local leaders are to examine the situation later in June to make determinations regarding relaxing occupancy restrictions.
New coronavirus infections in Monroe County have been greatly reduced, health officials said, and the infection rate in Miami-Dade and Broward has eased, enabling leaders in those counties to begin reopening businesses and public facilities. Those were keys factors that led to the determination of a targeted Keys tourism reopening date.
Visitors can expect new disinfecting and social distancing guidelines with input from the Florida Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Face coverings will be mandatory for both visitors and tourism industry staff members.
“We appreciate and have supported local government and health officials’ decisions to minimize coronavirus infection rates in the Keys,” said Rita Irwin, chair of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the destination management office for the Florida Keys and Key West. “That said, we are most gratified that we can ease into hosting visitors again. Tourism is the economic lifeblood of the Keys and almost half of our workforce is employed in visitor-related jobs.”