An aerial photo of Key West, Fla., the Southernmost City in the Continental United States and last of the islands in the Florida Keys island chain connected to the South Florida mainland by the Keys Overseas Highway. Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau KEY WEST
Florida Keys hopes to reopen to visitors Monday, June 1. The plan is to ease the visiting restrictions, suspend checkpoints on two roads leading from the South Florida mainland to the Keys, and also suspend arriving passenger screenings at Key West International and Florida Keys Marathon International airports. However, Keys lodging and other tourism-related businesses will be operating under the “new normal.” That includes new disinfecting and social distancing guidelines, as well as mandatory face covering for both visitors and tourism industry staff members. Hotels and other lodging establishments will run on 50 percent occupancy. Local leaders will examine the situation later in June to determine whether these measures must continue or can be eased up. Now that the risk of spreading COVID-19 appears to be minimized, Keys tourism officials are looking forward to hosting visitors once again. “Tourism is the economic lifeblood of the Keys and almost half of our workforce is employed in visitor-related jobs,” said Rita Irwin, chair of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the destination management office for the Florida Keys & Key West. “We are most gratified that we can ease into hosting visitors again.