The City of Marathon was the last hold out with scheduled fireworks. On July 1, during a special call meeting, the show was canceled by a unanimous vote.
“Celebrating the freedom we have is having choices to rule our own destinies,” said Marathon Mayor Steve Cook, who said he hated the idea of canceling the Independence Day celebration. “We put faith in elected officials to represent us — all of us. This was an emotional decision and not taken lightly.”
Although there had been discussion of having the show but closing the viewing area of Sombrero Beach — the usual gathering place to watch — the council decided to forgo it altogether in the interests of safety and fairness. If the show had proceeded, officials thought a roadblock would be necessary to prevent tailgating in the beach neighborhood, an enclave of expensive homes. Marathon officials said the show would be rescheduled.
Marathon’s Sombrero and Coco Plum public beaches are closed from Thursday, July 2 to Tuesday, July 7. Marathon’s other city parks are open unless they become overcrowded and social distancing cannot be observed. Marathon’s 33rd Street and Harbor Drive public boat ramps will be open this weekend with an extra detail of law enforcement to monitor. City Manager Chuck Lindsey said The Quay boat ramp reconstruction is three weeks behind schedule but is hopeful that it will be open for the holiday weekend.
Monroe County, Key West and other municipalities are enacting similar safety measures, following decisions cast in the tri-county area of Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Keys officials say that the cancellations north of the Keys might encourage mainland tourists to come to the Keys for Fourth of July festivities. Miami-Dade continues to have the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the state.
Here’s a rundown of closures:
On June 26, the state closed bars again as Florida experiences a big surge in coronavirus cases. The order states: Establishments that derive more than 50% of their gross revenue from the sales of alcohol beverages must suspend sales of alcohol for consumption on the premises. These establishments can continue to sell beverages in sealed containers for consumption off premises (package sales). Establishments that are also licensed as public food service establishments or restaurants under Chapter 509 can continue to operate for on-premises consumption of food and alcoholic beverages at tables so long as social distancing is preserved. Bar service — where patrons are served at the restaurant’s bar whether seated or standing — is not allowed.
State parks in the Keys will also be closed Friday through Sunday including Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West, Bahia Honda in the Lower Keys and Curry Hammock and Long Key state parks in the Middle Keys.
All county beaches and parks will be closed from Thursday, July 2 to Tuesday, July 7. County-owned boat ramps west of Marathon will be open.
A county ordinance requires everyone entering a business or working in a business to be masked. The exception is for seated restaurant patrons. Violators who refuse to don a mask shall be asked to leave. If they refuse, the offenders can be charged with trespass. Civil fines range from $500 to $1,500. Read more specifics at keysweekly.com.
At this time, there is no plan to resume a checkpoint at the top of the Keys limiting access to locals and local employees only.
Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi says he’s been “bombarded” with questions about raising the traffic checkpoints at the top of the Keys. At this point, he said, it seems unlikely it will resume.
“There’s no playbook for this. All we can do is keep our eyes on the number of available hospital beds, the percentage of positive cases,” Gastesi said. “What I can say is that when the time comes to bring the checkpoint back, it will be very evident.
Closures take effect Thursday, July 2 for all parks and beaches in the village of Islamorada, including the beach, pool and all amenities at Founders Park. No entry will be allowed for Islamorada residents or visitors. A reopening is slated for the morning of July 7.
The boat ramp at Founders Park Plantation Yacht Harbor Marina remains open to Islamorada residents during the July 4 holiday weekend. People must show ID with an Islamorada address or a Founders Park Resident ID card for proof of residency or home ownership.
The popular day trip destination in the Fills will also be closed to the public, including the Indian Key boat ramp area.
The annual fireworks display off Blackwater Sound in Key Largo is canceled, event organizers confirmed on June 27. The 45th annual Key Largo Chamber of Commerce’s parade is also canceled.
BIG PINE KEY
The fireworks display has been canceled.
KEY COLONY BEACH
Sunset Beach is closed. Key Colony Beach City Hall (excluding the police department) is closed due to a staff member who tested positive for COVID19. Employees are working from home as they are able.
Key West lawmakers voted unanimously but regretfully on June 27 to cancel the city’s fireworks display and related events planned by The Rotary Club of Key West in light of significantly increasing case counts in the Keys and visitors’ behavior downtown the week prior, which Mayor Teri Johnston called “blatant disregard for our city’s rules and efforts.”
The city also has closed beaches and parks from Thursday, July 2 until 6 a.m. Tuesday, July 7 to prevent large gatherings. Finally, Key West police have been closing Duval Street in the evenings to allow pedestrians to practice social distancing.