Florida Keys Reopening to Tourism Industry on June 1

Travelers looking to visit the ocean this summer received great news Sunday night as government officials in the Florida Keys announced they would reopen beaches on June 1.

After closing to visitors on March 22 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, guests will be welcomed back to the island chain when checkpoints on two roads leading from the South Florida mainland to the Keys are suspended on June 1.

Local officials also revealed arriving passenger screenings at Key West International and Florida Keys Marathon International airports will also be suspended. The decisions were made as the number of coronavirus cases in surrounding counties has been dramatically reduced.

“We appreciate and have supported local government and health officials’ decisions to minimize coronavirus infection rates in the Keys,” Monroe County Tourist Development Council chair Rita Irwin said in a statement. “That said, we are most gratified that we can ease into hosting visitors again. Tourism is the economic lifeblood of the Keys and almost half of our workforce is employed in visitor-related jobs.”

As for the hotel industry in the Florida Keys, occupancy will be limited to 50 percent of the standard numbers during the first phase of reopening. Officials will meet later in June regarding revisions to occupancy restrictions.

While the tourism industry is preparing to reopen, Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers said businesses would have to be ready for a “new normal,” such as increased cleaning protocols, social distancing guidelines and mandatory face coverings for all visitors and employees.

The safety initiatives were developed with input from the Florida Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and the American Hotel and Lodging Association. County officials said they would enforce all health guidelines.

For theme park fans heading to Florida, Walt Disney World Resort recently released plans for a phased reopening of its Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex, to begin on May 20.

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