The iconic palm-frond arch is currently being constructed at the entrance to Marathon Community Park, welcoming guests to this weekend’s 44th annual Original Marathon Seafood Festival. The festival will go on as planned.

“Our top health official in the Keys — Bob Eadie of the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County — has said the right protective measures are in place,” said Daniel Samess, ceo of the Marathon Chamber of Commerce, which co-hosts the event with the Organized Fishermen of Florida. “If they would have told us to cancel it, we would have abided by their wishes. We are not going to push the limit.”

Samess continued, “The risk isn’t any greater than going to a restaurant, a local attraction or business. So come on out and have a great time and eat some fresh seafood.”

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County as of presstime. Key West’s port is still open as well as county airports.

The Florida Department of Health in Monroe County put out guidelines today, March 13, for attendees of mass gatherings (places where 1,000 people or more are present at one time). It urges guests to stay home if they have been in contact with someone who has the virus, are over 65 with underlying health conditions, are ill, have a compromised immune system and other instructions (see below).

Samess said he can only guess what the 2020 Original Marathon Seafood Festival will look like.

“I’m assuming that our turnout is going to be about what it was after Hurricane Irma in the year 2018. We had about 20 percent fewer guests. I’m thinking that there will be between 8,000 and 12,000 attendees over the-two day period,” he said.

The festival has had a number of cancellations: some older volunteers are opting out and some vendors have told organizers they will be skipping this year.

“In both cases, we’ve thanked them for wanting to participate and told them we hope they come back next year,” said Samess, adding that chamber personnel are going through the waitlist of vendors to see if they can fill the spots. “There’s going to be some empty vendor spaces, yes, but maybe only 10 or 15.”

The boats in the boat show have already been delivered and all of the bands have confirmed they will play. The conch fritters situation, briefly in limbo, has been corrected and the deliciousness will be available as usual.

Marathon Seafood Festival
Admission: $5
Dates: Friday and Saturday, March 14-15
Location: Marathon Community Park, MM 49, oceanside
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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From the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County:

We are strongly urging attendees of mass gatherings (places where 1,000 people or more are present at one time) not to attend, if you:
• are a contact to a known or suspected case of COVID-19
• are over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions
• are immune compromised
• are ill
• have been exposed to someone with a respiratory illness in the last 14 days
• have chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease
• have traveled internationally within the last 14 days, especially to destinations under a level 3 travel advisory
• have traveled to or from a geographic area with widespread community transmission of COVID- 19
“These warnings are consistent with CDC and Florida Department of Health Guidelines,” states Bob Eadie, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County. “We all have a role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases, and modifying personal behaviors can protect individuals and our community.”
Additionally, everyone is encouraged to:
• Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
For more information on mass gatherings, please visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html
The mission of the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County is to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts. For more general information about the COVID-19 situation in Florida, visit floridahealth.gov.

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