Florida Keys will open to visitors Oct. 1

Mayor says Keys have 'a long way to go,' but economy depends on it


KEY WEST, Fla. – The Florida Keys will reopen to tourists Oct. 1.

Monroe County officials made the announcement Monday, more than two weeks after Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Keys.

The Category 4 storm destroyed an estimated 25 percent of the homes on the island chain.

"We know we have a long way to go before the Keys fully recover," Monroe County Mayor George Neugent said. "But because tourism is our top economic engine and many of our residents' livelihoods depend on it, we also know that we need to begin asking visitors to return."

The timeline is in keeping with Gov. Rick Scott's October outlook for when he hoped tourists could return to the Keys.

Airports in Key West and Marathon have reopened, and the first cruise ship since Irma returned to Key West on Sunday. However, debris removal continues, and some hotels and tourist destinations are still recovering.

Key West's Fantasy Fest, slated for Oct. 20-29, is scheduled to go on as planned.

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