Updated Wednesday, April 1, 2020, 9:15 a.m. (EST)
FLORIDA KEYS -- Florida Keys government officials have temporarily closed the island destination to visitors until further notice, citing concerns about increasing coronavirus threats. Florida Keys lodging businesses and virtually all other tourism-related businesses, including beaches, boat ramps and fishing piers, have temporarily ceased operations.
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office has implemented southbound traffic stops restricting road access to non-residents. The traffic stops are located at mile marker 112.5 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway (U.S. 1), and on State Road 905, between Ocean Reef and the access point to U.S. 1 in Key Largo, and are to operate 24 hours a day until further notice.
Officials will re-evaluate tourism closures and make changes when appropriate.
For information about coronavirus (COVID-19) and preventive techniques, visit these trusted resources:
Frequently Asked Questions for Florida Keys Travelers
What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?
On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.
There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. (source: CDC.gov)
Who is most affected by COVID-19?
The elderly (over age 65) and those with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease such as COPD, or obesity are at the greatest risk for serious effects from COVID-19.
How can I best protect myself and my family?
While there’s not yet a vaccine for COVID-19, the best prevention and treatments are methods that have been practiced for years when dealing with flu and respiratory illnesses. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
Health officials remind people that preventive actions to help impede the spread of respiratory diseases include:
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
- stay home and avoid contact with persons in poor health
- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then dispose of the tissue
- wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing the nose, coughing or sneezing
- if soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
What preventive measures are being taken in the Florida Keys against COVID-19?
The health and safety of all Florida Keys visitors and residents are a top priority. Florida Keys county and municipal officials are prepared and continue to prepare to aggressively deal with coronavirus. Officials and the Keys medical community are on high alert to respond.
There are confirmed cases of the virus in the Florida Keys, according to Florida Department of Health officials. To keep Florida residents and visitors safe, informed and aware of coronavirus, the Florida Department of Health has launched a COVID-19 dashboard that is updated daily at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. The resource includes Monroe County (Florida Keys) data.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has implemented southbound traffic stops restricting road access to non-residents. The traffic stops are located at mile marker 112.5 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway (U.S. 1), and on State Road 905, between Ocean Reef and the access point to U.S. 1 in Key Largo, and are to operate 24 hours a day until further notice.
I have plans to come to the Florida Keys, but I understand the Keys are temporarily closed to visitors. What can I do about refunds or rescheduling plans?
Contact your airline, hotel and other travel providers regarding trip changes and/or refunds. Travel resources should work out solutions regarding deposits and other payments.
I think I might have coronavirus. What should I do next?
If you believe you are having an emergency, please call 9-1-1. If not, contact your medical provider. Follow directions given by the provider. An internet search will provide names, addresses and phone numbers for medical providers in your area.
Are events with large groups of people safe to attend?
The CDC has “mass gatherings” guidance with regard to avoiding or limiting events, groups and gatherings.
It is also recommended that individuals avoid any contact with other individuals in, closed-in or poorly ventilated settings with little air circulation if he/she:
- is a contact to a known or suspected case of COVID-19
- is over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions
- is immune compromised
- is ill
- has been exposed to someone with a respiratory illness in the last 14 days
- has chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease
- has traveled internationally within the last 14 days, especially to destinations under a level 3 travel advisory
- has traveled to or from a geographic area with widespread community transmission of COVID-19
What about traveling on cruise ships, ferries and their port calls in Key West?
The Florida Keys are temporarily closed to visitors. U.S. ocean-going cruise lines have temporarily suspended cruise ship operations from U.S. embarkation ports.
In addition, the Key West Ferry Terminal is closed and the Key West Express ferry has suspended operations.
Are Florida Keys beaches, parks and attractions open?
The island destination is temporarily closed to visitors. Florida Keys lodging, attractions, marinas, boat ramps and fishing piers are temporarily closed.
The City of Marathon has closed Sombrero Beach and all city beaches.
All City of Key West beaches and parks are closed, including Smathers Beach. Monroe County officials closed nearby Higgs Beach. White Street Pier is closed. Reynolds Street Pier located at Higgs Beach in Key West will be closed nightly starting at 6 p.m. until further notice. Other county beaches in unincorporated areas of the island chain remain open.
Parks in the Village of Islamorada are closed to the public with the exception of open spaces at Founders Park. The Founders Park Aquatic Center and dog park are closed. Founders Park facilities such as basketball court, tennis courts, pickleball courts, fields and walking trails and may be used by individuals and small groups. All beaches and other Village parks including Anne's Beach and Library Park Beach are completely closed. All restroom facilities at parks and beaches are closed. The area known as the Fills from MM 77.5 to 79.8 and the boat ramp at Indian Key Fill are closed.
What about restaurants, bars and nightclubs?
Based on an executive order issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, all bars and nightclubs throughout Florida, including the Keys, ceased operations March 17.
Per the Governor's March 20 executive order, all restaurants and food establishments within the State of Florida, including the Florida Keys, suspended on-premises food and alcohol consumption for customers. On-site dining is not allowed. Establishments may operate for the purpose of take-out or delivery.
Are area state and national parks open?
All Florida state parks are closed.
Ferry and seaplane service to Dry Tortugas National Park is temporarily suspended. The Long Pine Key and Flamingo campgrounds in Everglades National Park are closed.
Should I wear a facemask?
The CDC does not recommend that asymptomatic, healthy people wear a facemask as a preventive measure. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
Where can I get reliable information from trusted resources?
It is important to understand that the coronavirus situation is extremely fluid and has the potential to change on a daily basis.
Florida’s state health department has established a dedicated COVID-19 hotline at 1-866-779-6121. The call center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.