Monroe County plans to end checkpoints on the Overseas Highway and allow visitors to return to the Florida Keys on June 1, ending a two-month travel ban to the tourism-dependent chain of islands.
Hotels and other lodging will be allowed to re-open at 50% capacity. Airport screenings and bus restrictions will also end on June 1.
Bars remain closed, but restaurants are open with limitations. (Details below)
The Keys have been closed to visitors since March 22, when the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office established checkpoints on the Overseas Highway and Card Sound Road to block non-residents from entering the Keys.
The new order is subject to change, depending on the status of coronavirus in the Keys. As of Sunday, there were 100 active cases of the virus, including three deaths and 12 hospitalizations, according to the Miami Herald.
Lodging, campgrounds: 50% capacity
The latest directive allows hotels, motels, vacation rentals, campgrounds, RV parks and timeshares to begin accepting reservations for June 1 and beyond.
“The timeline for removing the 50 percent capacity restriction for lodging will be determined at a later date,” according to a statement issued Sunday by the Monroe County Commission.
Bars and Restaurants: 25% capacity inside
Restaurants are operating at 25 percent of indoor capacity. Outdoor seating capacity is not limited, as long as tables are 6 feet apart and seated parties are groups of 10 or less.
Bars and bar seating in restaurants remain closed.
Beaches: Most are open with restrictions
Beaches in the Keys have already re-opened for residents with social distancing rules in place.
Key West has opened its beaches and parks with few restrictions, and sunbathing is allowed in addition to exercise. While masks are not required, beachgoers must maintain social distancing.
County-owned parks and beaches are open throughout the Keys with social distancing enforced. Playgrounds are being sanitized twice daily.
Municipal beaches are closed in Marathon and Islamorada.
The Reynolds Street Pier at Higgs Beach is open until 6 p.m. nightly. The fitness trail, playgrounds and dog park at Higgs Beach are also open.
State parks with beaches in the Keys have reopened with restrictions.
What else to expect
Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers says Keys lodging and other tourism-related businesses are preparing for a new normal to host visitors.
New disinfecting and social distancing guidelines, as well as mandatory wearing of face coverings for both visitors and tourism industry staff members, are to be initiated with input from the Florida Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
Monroe County officials said they will be watching developments in adjacent Miami-Dade and Broward counties, which begin a staged re-opening this week.
“Should the Florida Keys experience an increase in cases … restrictions may be heightened and/or amenities may again be closed,” Monroe County said in a statement issued Sunday night.
For more information, here’s the official directive: Monroe-County COVID-19
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