The Florida Keys will reopen to tourists June 1 by removing the checkpoints at the entrances to the island chain and allowing hotels to reopen at 50 percent occupancy, Monroe County leaders announced Sunday night.
This is contingent on the state of the novel coronavirus in the Keys, county spokeswoman Kristen Livengood said in a news release sent out at about 7:30 p.m.
As of Sunday, the Keys had 100 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, three deaths and 12 hospitalizations.
“Should the Florida Keys experience an increase in cases and under the advisement of the Florida Department of Health, restrictions may be heightened and amenities may again be closed,” Livengood said.
The decision to reopen was made in light of the Keys’ low COVID-19 infection rate in comparison to neighboring hotspots Miami-Dade and Broward counties. For the past week the only new cases have come from an Upper Keys nursing home, Livengood said.
“It was the toughest decision they’ve had to make,” Livengood said, of the county leaders’ June 1 plan. “It’s time to start moving forward, and they followed the plan they’ve had in place. The checkpoint has done what it’s needed to do.”
Since March 22, the Keys have been closed to non-residents who don’t work or own property in the county. Airports in Key West and Marathon remain open, but passengers are screened and told to self-quarantine for 14 days.
On March 27, the county put up checkpoints at mile marker 112.5 on U.S. 1 and County Road 905 to keep out non-residents.
“Airport screenings and bus restrictions will also be lifted on June 1,” said Livengood.
Monroe leaders urged Keys residents to continue to follow social distancing restrictions set by the state, county and municipalities to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
The June 1 reopening plan was announced the night before Monday, when the governor said gyms could reopen and restaurants could fill their dining rooms up to 50 percent capacity.
Bars remain closed statewide.
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