What, if anything, should the city do to limit the spread of COVID-19 on New Year’s Eve, when shoulder-to-shoulder crowds congregate throughout downtown Key West?
Do nothing and let personal responsibility dictate behavior? Cancel all outdoor events? Implement a 10 p.m. curfew? Position security monitors in each block to enforce the mask mandate?
No decisions have been made, but all of the above were mentioned in a recent online survey to get public input about potential protective measures to keep Key West “open and safe”on New Year’s Eve.
Officials will discuss their options when they meet at 5 p.m. this evening. For a complete agenda, visit cityofkeywest-fl.gov. The New Year’s Eve topic is listed as a discussion item, so an official decision may not be made until a subsequent meeting.
Approximately 1,300 people responded to the survey in three days, with the mixed results mirroring the division in town, often pitting between business owners and working residents against retirees, second homeowners and government employees whose incomes have been less impacted by the pandemic and its associated business closures.
“We had a very good balance between bar/restaurant and general community members [who responded to the survey]. In that sense, the survey represents the community at large very well,” said Elisa Levy, the city’s strategic planning consultant, when reporting the survey results.
“There was an almost even break between the two extremes: ‘Doing nothing’ was 19.88%; while a ‘10 p.m. curfew’ received 21.89%. This is indicative of the community overall right now. We are divided — evenly split between shutting the event down and keeping it wide open with no rules. Most people fell somewhere in between,” Levy reported.
“The four options that got the most support were: Increase monitors and security to enforce mask rules for people walking (42.47%); cancel all outside events (42.19%); close off Duval to move people outdoors (38.43%); encourage outside dining (32.25%).
Tonight’s meeting also includes a coronavirus update from the health department at the start of the meeting, and a COVID update from the mayor is the final agenda item for tonight’s meeting.
The commission will also consider a request from Key West businessman Blake Feldman to operate up to 21 “Bar Bikes” on city streets. The solar- and human-powered bikes feature seven or 14 seats with users pedaling on each side and a mobile “bar” down the center. Feldman has requested the required vehicle-for-hire licenses for the venture.