MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida Keys have been closed to visitors and tourists since Sunday night, but now officials are reinforcing the closure amid coronavirus fears.
Monroe County is currently closed to visitors from Key Largo to Key West in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“This is not something we wanted to do, not something we planned to do, but something that we felt we had to do," Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers said.
The county, along with its law enforcement officers, are taking further measures beginning Friday.
There will now be traffic stops at mile marker 112 on the 18-mile stretch in the Florida Keys and on State Road 905 between Ocean Reef and Key Largo.
Only residents, property owners and those who actively work in the Keys will be admitted. This includes fuel tankers, delivery and grocery trucks.
All hotels shut down earlier this week.
Carruthers said people were not heeding the warnings over the past five days that the Keys have been closed to visitors, so she was forced to put checkpoints in place.
“The sooner we take actions to stem travel and limit social interaction, the sooner it will start to ebb and the sooner we can get back to normal life,” she said.
With visitors being turned away, the mayor said this will definitely impact their tourism revenue.
“It’s going to be devastating to our tourism economy. Sixty percent of the folks here are directly or indirectly involved in tourism," Carruthers said.
But Carruthers mentioned that the Keys as a whole is a resilient community and will bounce back.
“'Come as you are’ -- that’s our motto -- and we are going to still say, ‘Come as you are...later,’” she said.
Monroe County now has more than a dozen confirmed COVID-19 cases.