On the eve of a court hearing that challenges Key West’s New Year curfew, city officials amended the emergency directive that details the rules of the 10 p.m. curfew.
Bars, restaurants and all other non-essential businesses must close at 10 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 31, Jan. 1 and Jan. 2. All people must be in their homes or hotels by 10:30 p.m. and may not make use of city streets or sidewalks after that time.
A hearing pertaining to the lawsuit filed by Key West resident Andrew Day challenging the curfew is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29.
In his executive order, Governor Ron DeSantis requires municipalities to quantify and justify a curfew or other business restrictions. With the new language added on Monday, Dec. 28, Key West officials attempt to quantify the potential financial impacts of a curfew on the affected bars and restaurants.
The city’s amended directive now states, “WHEREAS, the restaurant industry has experienced a 20% reduction in sales in June 2020, a 26% reduction in sales in July 2020, a 12% reduction in August 2020, and an 11% increase in September 2020, as compared to 2019 sales during the same time period, based on Monroe County figures; and WHEREAS, these losses are industry averages; and WHEREAS, these losses reflect both government restrictions on restaurants and/or local businesses and also customers who chose not to patronize restaurants due to COVID-19; and WHEREAS, implementation of a temporary curfew in this Emergency Directive may limit the hours of operations of some establishments to less than the posted hours. However, of the 294 licensed food service establishments or restaurants, only 86 are open past 10 p.m. This equates to an impact of 29% of food service establishments between 1/2 hour to 6 hours for a maximum of 3 nights; and WHEREAS, the impact of such curfew could result in the loss of sales for such restaurants of 14% compared to prior years, based on data through from June through September of 2019 and 2020, based on Monroe County figures, although the percentage is difficult to quantify as the curfew shall only be in effect for one night during December, 2020, and two nights in January, 2021 ; and WHEREAS, in the past, New Year’s Eve celebrations and the celebrations surrounding that day have included gatherings of tens of thousands of people on or near Duval Street and/or celebrations and gatherings of large groups of people throughout the City of Key West….”