As of this writing, Marathon’s main tourist attractions are still operating: Dolphin Research Center, The Turtle Hospital and Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters. All three have modified safety and sanitation procedures.
“We’ve limited our program size to 10 people,” said Bette Zirkelbach of The Turtle Hospital, “and we’re skipping the indoor video presentation but incorporating that information elsewhere in the tour.”
Guests can make reservations online, and those are filling up fast.
Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters is embracing complex and simple measures.
“We are no longer putting armband bracelets on visitors, unless they request them so they can visit again later in the day,” said the aquarium’s Ben Daughtry.
The aquarium offers guided tours on the hour, but will be limiting the number of guests in those groups and encouraging everyone to keep their distance from one another and staff.
Dolphin Research Center is operating as normal, with extra sanitation measures and in accordance with CDC directives.
Not everyone is operating as usual.
Crane Point Museum is still open, but has canceled programs, camps and trolley tours.
Pigeon Key Foundation has ended tours and education groups’ visits to the little island in the middle of old 7 Mile Bridge. The City of Marathon also canceled its spring break camp for Middle Keys students before it ever began.
Marathon Community Theatre and Marathon Community Cinema are dark. The annual 7 Mile Bridge Run has been canceled. In Key West, many of the museums are closed, trolley tours are canceled and landmarks are roped off. In the Upper Keys, it’s the same. Many scheduled events for April have also been canceled.
No official has suggested evacuating the tourists, as during a hurricane, but some are beginning to come forward with anecdotal stories that suggest some of the current visitors are fleeing areas of high COVID-19 infection. At the same time, they have acknowledged their importance to our local economy.