The famed Florida Keys has been a chain of islands deserted of visitors for nearly two months. Now, after a forced economic slumber, the islands will soon welcome back visitors. That was the word from Monroe County officials as they announced on Saturday, May 16, that the Florida Keys reopening. The restriction of tourism to the county will be lifted on June 1.
"It's the toughest decision they've had to make," county spokeswoman Kristen Livengood told the Miami Herald. Livengood also emphasized that if cases of the novel coronavirus suddenly increase, the Keys could again be closed off to visitors.
The county posted its steps to lift restrictions in a release on May 16, which included checkpoints to enter the Keys will also be removed, along with the suspension on airport screening and bus restrictions.
However, as with all localities reopening, there will be some changes.
Hotels on the islands will reopen, but only at 50% occupancy. The county will continue to follow the state directive on social distancing measures, which mandates that masks must be worn in public settings, and all groups will be limited in size to 10 or less.
UPDATE FOR FLORIDA KEYS VISITORS, per county officials: Monroe County plans to reopen to visitors Monday, June 1,… https://t.co/qs22n5jaZO— The Florida Keys (@The Florida Keys)1589765018.0
Businesses that reopen will also have to follow strict guidelines set forth by both Monroe County and the state.
All restaurants will only be allowed to operate at 25% capacity, although that may be ramped up after the governor announced that eateries could open their dining rooms to 50%.
Expanding outdoor seating capacity is one option for restaurants in the Keys to dodge this requirement since they won't be capped per the count. Also, restaurants will not be allowed to take parties of 10 people or more, and all bars will also remain closed.
MONROE COUNTY PREPARES FOR LODGING ESTABLISHMENTS TO REOPEN AND REMOVAL OF CHECKPOINTS - JUNE 1 https://t.co/f4qgeEtNJs via @Nextdoor— Monroe County BOCC (@Monroe County BOCC)1589760248.0
Florida considers an establishment to be a bar if 50% or more of its revenue comes from alcohol sales, which could be tricky for restaurants who sell both food and alcohol.
Happy Wednesday everyone! LET’S FLAMINGLE with Rhett & Scarlet at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory!… https://t.co/7yvqjkxC6s— The Florida Keys (@The Florida Keys)1588774887.0
So while the Florida Keys will soon be back to show off its sublime natural beauty to visitors, there will continue to be changes. But at least paradise will be back.