In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Becky Lawrence sanitizes a point of sale system at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Key West, Fla. Bars around Florida have closed under a state declaration signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus. (Carol Tedesco/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
UPDATED 7:19 AM PT — Monday, March 23, 2020
One of Florida’s most popular tourist destinations has officially closed to visitors as a precaution to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Officials from Monroe County announced in a statement Sunday that the Florida Keys will temporarily not be welcoming tourists.
The new restrictions prohibit tourists and leisure visitors, while also calling for all hotels and lodging establishments in the area to be closed until further notice. However, rentals used by the military, first responders and health care workers are exempt from the ban.
Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers said she believes people are starting to get the message of just how serious the pandemic is.
“I rode my bike around the island today and saw very little traffic, very few people out, and you see single player or maybe two people together,” explained the mayor. “…I think the message is out now; we’ve closed our bars, our restaurants.”
This move came after authorities confirmed at least one case of coronavirus has been identified in the county.