The Florida Keys will open to visitors on June 1, after being closed for almost two months to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The checkpoints on the access roads in the upper Keys will be lifted; the roads had been blocked off since late March to anyone who did not live or work there.
The Keys are a major cruising destination, for people cruising on the Great Loop and for people who simply want to enjoy some of the best boating, fishing, diving, and most exotic locales, in the continental United States. Marinas that had been closed are now scheduled to reopen on June 1.
Under the lockdown, hotels had been closed, and anyone who flew into Key West was screened and then placed under self-quarantine for two weeks. The isolation guidelines in the Keys were among the most strict in the country, but they worked. Officials say the Keys have registered only three COVID-19 deaths and only 100 cases overall.
The airport screenings will end on June 1 and hotels can reopen after filing a sanitation plan, but they can book only 50 percent of their normal capacity. The beaches reopened to locals on April 27; they now will be open to visitors but subject to social distancing procedures.
All of the Keys, but particularly Key West, were hurt hard by the shutdown. About 44 percent of the jobs in the Keys are tied to the tourist industry; more than 5 million people visit each year. Many shop windows on Duval Street in Key West had hand-written signs saying “Everything must go.”
Key West is still suffering from a lack of cruise ship passengers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a no-sail order that prohibits those ships from cruising for the time being.
Key West business leaders were happy about the reopening. “I knew those roadblocks weren’t long for this world,” Greg Veliz, the city manager, told the Miami Herald. Read more: