- Key West reopened its beaches, parks, and recreational facilities on Monday, reported Gwen Filosa for the Miami Herald.
- However, the city manager said he plans to keep the island closed to tourists through May or longer.
- He’s keeping two highway checkpoints in place to keep visitors out.
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Key West residents can once again enjoy beaches, parks, and recreational facilities on the island.
Six weeks after shutting them down, local officials have opened up the outdoor areas to help encourage exercise, reported Gwen Filosa for the Miami Herald. Playgrounds will remain closed.
“Although we are currently under a restrictive order as it pertains to businesses, we do understand the need to begin to allow our residents to resume some sense of normalcy while exercising personal responsibility and social distancing,” City Manager Greg Veliz said in a letter on Facebook.
“We hope that by easing some restrictions on public space our residents can enjoy the natural environment Key West has to offer,” Veliz wrote. “Residents are encouraged to responsibly distance themselves from each other while spending time outside of their homes.”
There aren’t any sunbathing restrictions on the beaches, Filosa reported, but beachgoers do have to wear face masks and practice social distancing, which will be monitored by the police.
The beach reopenings come 10 days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the green light for some beaches in northern Florida to reopen. Jacksonville beachgoers were quick to make their way onto the sand.
While Veliz anticipates being able to lift restrictions on non-essential businesses in the near future, he plans to keep the island closed to visitors through May, if not longer. To enforce this, he’s keeping two highway checkpoints in the Upper Keys to keep out tourists.
Key West isn’t the only place attempting to keep non-residents out. So many big city residents migrated to Cape Cod that thousands of locals signed a petition for bridges to be closed.
“While we love our tourists and summer residents, this is not the time to come to the Cape, our hospital can’t handle it,” read the petition, which was started by South Yarmouth resident Beth Hickman. “We only have two small hospitals here on Cape, and limited medical staff.”
And North Haven, a small island off the coast of Maine that’s only accessible by boat or plane, voted to ban its own part-time residents. As Kathryn Miles reported for Politico, the island enacted a travel ban after it started receiving calls from summer homeowners who said they intended to shelter in North Haven during the pandemic.
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