Those who planned to enjoy a road trip to the Florida Keys have less than 72 hours to fulfill those beach dreams.
Monroe County, which encompasses the popular beach region, will close all hotel lodging and tourist activity beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday, according to news station Fox 13. The decision was made to minimize the growing number of coronavirus cases in Florida. There are more than 430 cases across the state and at least nine deaths.
All hotel and lodging sites will be closed and businesses will not be allowed to accept reservations for other activities, according to the news report. Long-term renters can stay, but once their current contract is up, they are required to leave, too.
“This was done in the interest of public safety and due to the number of increasing [coronavirus] cases in the counties north of Monroe County,” according to a county statement.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not implemented a statewide mandate to close beaches, but restrictions have been placed on bars, restaurants and other non-essential businesses.
County officials have the task of closing beaches in certain parts of Florida to prevent the spread of the virus. Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties have closed their beaches, according to Bay News 9. The City of Tampa also decided to close its beaches. The City of Cocoa also closed the Cocoa Beach Pier in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Brevard County has not specifically closed beaches, but it has halted beach parking along its 72-mile coastline, which is a measure to ward off large crowds.
These regulations come down the pipeline right as spring break visitors by the thousands arrived to Florida this last week. Florida Sen. Rick Scott sent a clear message to those visitors and locals alike who still want to head to the beach.
“Get off the beach. Unless you can figure out how to completely be isolated from anybody else, I mean, individuals have got to take responsibility,” Scott said. “Every level of government has got to be very clear – don’t be on the beach unless you can somehow be completely by yourself.”