Monroe County officials announced they are targeting Monday, June 1, to reopen the Florida Keys to tourists following the island chain’s closure to tourists March 22 to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19.
Lodging is to be limited to 50 percent of standard occupancy during beginning stages of reopening.
The easing of visitor restrictions is to coincide with the planned June 1 suspension of checkpoints on two roads leading from the South Florida mainland to the Keys. Until June 1, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is to continue to operate southbound traffic stops restricting road access to non-residents.
The traffic stops are located at mile marker 112.5 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway (U.S. 1), and on State Road 905, between Ocean Reef and the access point to U.S. 1 in Key Largo.
New coronavirus infections in Monroe County have been greatly reduced, health officials said, and the infection rate in Miami-Dade and Broward has eased, enabling officials in those counties to begin reopening businesses and public facilities.
Carruthers said that 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.
In the case of larger resorts and tourism-related businesses, corporate offices likely will help to establish procedures.
Carruthers said the county plans to enforce the health guidelines.
Per Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order 20-123, Monroe County’s administrator is to submit a written request and safety plan to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary to seek approval for the operation of licensed Florida Keys vacation rentals.