The Florida Keys are still closed to visitors and will be throughout May, county spokeswoman Kristen Livengood said late April 27. Despite miscommunications otherwise about internal openings, nothing has changed.
The county is re-emphasizing this point after Key West opened its beaches, parks and outdoor recreational spaces on Monday, April 27 to residents only. Some visitors mistook the internal opening as a sign that the Keys were opening again. This is not the case, not yet.
“The checkpoints on U.S. 1 at Mile Marker 112.5 and State Road 905 remain in effect,” Livengood said. Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Adam Linhardt added, “The sheriff’s office continues to work with Monroe County and the Office of Emergency Management in terms of following and keeping their policy at the checkpoint in place. That remains unchanged.” Linhardt emphasized that the Keys are still closed and that openings are “Locals only.”
“The entire State of Florida remains under a ‘Safer at Home’ order,” added Livengood. Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers also reiterated how Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order and the county and municipal emergency directives are still in place, meaning everyone should be staying home and in their home counties for anything other than essential business.
Key West opened its recreational spaces “in an effort to loosen protective measures” for residents only. Carruthers noted the many benefits to residents of having places to recreate. “Exercise. Sunlight. Fresh air. Relief from cabin fever,” she said.
“When there are any openings of outdoor recreation, they will be internally for residents and property owners only, to be able to utilize outdoor space for physical and mental health,” Livengood added. “Also, these areas will still need to observe physical distancing from others of at least 6 feet.”
The village council of Islamorada opened the Plantation Yacht Harbor boat ramp at Founders Park to village residents on April 20.
The City of Marathon has indicated it is waiting for DeSantis’ comments expected on Thursday, April 30 after he reviews his reopening task force’s recommendations.
Key West City Manager Greg Veliz said, “We are closely monitoring all announcements from the governor so that we can respond in a manner that reflects the unique needs of Key West. We anticipate that we will soon have the ability to lift the closure of non-essential businesses for Keys residents.”
While various task forces are being assembled to explore the if, how, where and, most importantly, when of reopening the Keys to visitors, we’re not there yet, Livengood and Carruthers emphasized.
“The county takes its guidance in terms of opening up businesses again from health officials and local stakeholders and business owners, in conjunction with municipal, other county and state governments,” Carruthers said.
So, for now, it’s still business as “usual” for these unusual, coronavirus times. The directives and “Safer-at-Home” orders are still in place. The checkpoints are still active. And the Keys are closed.
Motorists who cannot prove they live or own property in the Florida Keys, or cannot prove they are performing essential work in the Florida Keys, should not attempt to come through the checkpoints. Documentation to prove residency, homeownership, or essential work can be found at www.monroecountyem.com/covid19 under “checkpoint.”