June 1st opening targeted
Florida Keys officials have announced a June 1st reopening to visitors, coinciding a planned June 1st suspension of checkpoints on roads connecting the Keys to the South Florida mainland. Arriving passenger screenings at Key West International and Florida Keys Marathon International airports are also set to be suspended.
According to health officials, new coronavirus infections in Monroe County have reduced significantly and the infection rate in Miami-Dade and Broward has eased, enabling the reopening businesses and public facilities.
During the initial stages, lodging will be restricted to 50 percent of standard occupancy. New disinfecting and social distancing guidelines, including 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.
Keys tourism officials expressed gratitude that the destination is reopening to visitors. “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 & 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,” Irwin added. However, it is yet to be seen how easing of restrictions will impact local dive operators. The Keys were closed to tourists on March 22 to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19. For more information, visit fla-keys.com.