Tourism officials in Key West report that they expect the destination to reopen to tourism by Friday, October 20, following damage the island sustained from Hurricane Irma.
According to the latest update from the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the reopening date will coincide with the start of the Fantasy Fest annual costume and masking festival.
Residents and business owners were permitted back into the Upper Keys Tuesday and the remaining Keys areas on Sunday, according to the council, and visitors have been asked to postpone any near-term vacation plans in the area. An exact reopening date for all regions is not yet known.
Royal Caribbean likewise reports that the government of Key West has told them that they expect to be open to tourism by October 20. The cruise line said it will stay closely connected with local authorities and continue to provide updates. For the cruise line’s Empress of the Seas sailings departing September 23 and 27, as well as October 2, 7 and 11, the planned call at Key West will be swapped with a sea day. Guests who choose not to sail on these itineraries will receive a 100 percent future cruise credit on bookings made within the next year.
Both of the airports in the Florida Keys are available for aircraft, but commercial service to Key West International Airport remains suspended until electricity and water have been restored. The airports are currently being used as incoming staging areas for relief supplies and personnel.
Damage assessments throughout the Keys are still underway. All spans on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway have been deemed safe after a few areas were repaired due to storm surge. Areas between Key Largo and the east of the Seven Mile Bridge (Marathon) are currently under a 10 p.m. to dawn curfew. The curfew for the city of Key West is midnight to dawn, and the remaining areas southwest of the Seven Mile Bridge through the Key West city limits are under a dusk to dawn curfew.
About 90 percent of Florida Keys Electric Cooperative customers from Key Largo through Marathon have had their power restored. About 90 percent of Keys Energy customers in Key West have also seen their power restored, including Key Haven and Stock Island; and about 13 percent of customers east of Big Coppitt Key through the Seven Mile Bridge have had their power restored.
A dedicated informational website has been established at KeysRecovery.org.