Mark your calendars.
On June 1st, the Florida Keys is set to reopen for tourists with new rules and regulations surrounding social distancing.
So, what exactly is opening from a tourism perspective?
Pretty much everything: Hotels, RV Parks, campgrounds marinas, you name it. Even vacation rentals.
The only major difference between June 1, 2019, and June 1, 2020, is the occupancy rates. Businesses will be required to operate at a maximum of 50% capacity in order to allow for some social distancing. That being said, it remains to be seen whether or not tourists will still flock to the typically popular vacation destination.
There’s only one access point from South Florida to the Keys, and as of the present moment, a checkpoint is installed that limits traffic to local residents only. That checkpoint will be lifted on June 1, as will airport screenings into the tiny airport home to the Keys.
The islands have been closed to non-residents since March 22, and Monroe county Spokesperson Kristen Livengood told the Miami Herald that reopening was the “toughest decision” they’ve had to make.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association has laid out new rules and guidelines that must be adhered to in response to COVID-19, and all places of lodging in the Keys will, of course, have to abide by these new standards.
But will people come?
Given that the economy is hurting and that much of the nation is out of work, it remains to be seen whether or not vacation dollars will be flowing.
“We’re not expecting huge crowds of people,” said Jodi Weinhofer, President of the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West.
100 people in Monroe County have contracted COVID-19, with three deaths resulting from the disease. While the numbers continue to rise in the Keys, most cases are confined to a nursing home in Plantation Key.
Bob Eadie, administrator for the Department of Health in Monroe County, has stated that the virus appears to be under control in the Keys.
Hopefully that continues to be the case after a reopening.