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The Florida Keys lie within Monroe county, which stretches over 100 miles amongst slices of paradise in southern Florida. With vast open land, this particular tropical escape is one of the more ideal places to come when trying to social distance. You can kayak, snorkel, camp at one of the parks without being on top of one another. But you’ll need to follow some guidelines. Medical experts from the area promote self-responsibility and common sense to ensure all have a great time.
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Airports are Open
Airports in the Keys are now open. Both the Florida Keys Marathon Airport and Key West International are allowing incoming flights. However, not many flights are coming and going and the amount of inbound passengers is minuscule. Some planes come in with just 10 passengers. Travelers are screened before leaving, and some state’s residents have to be quarantined. Be sure to call ahead about what your particular situation might be.
Social Distancing is Pretty Easy
Social distancing is totally enforced along the chain of islands – but it’s not too difficult given that there aren’t a ton of crowds right now, and there’s lots of activities that keep guests far away from each other. Kayak into calm waters around mangroves, or claim your piece of sandy paradise for the day. Staying 6 feet apart from other folks and gathering in groups less than 10 is not too challenging.
Mask are a Must
When social distancing is not possible, masks are required in public places. Even if you’re staying in a hotel, and are wandering around the common grounds, you must have some type of face covering. While surgical masks seem to be the most suggested, face buffs, bandannas, and double-layered cloth masks are usually acceptable. You can always refer to the CDC as to what could serve as a protective facial covering.
Bring Hand Sanitizer
Travelers are also encouraged to carry hand sanitizer at all times. When you can’t wash your hands, put a dab of sanitizer in your palm. Be sure that the brand you are using hasn’t been recalled, because many have. This is because some poorly produced sanitizers contain a type of toxic wood alcohol. Refer to the FDA site to find out which brands have been recalled.
Restaurants Have Changed
Restaurant scenes have changed quite a bit, as occupancy must be no more than 50% inside. Even those dining outdoors are asked to wear a face covering when not eating. Alcohol sales have been somewhat restricted, and many establishments have to be closed by 11 PM at night. Most establishments, including bars, are still open, but you’ll want to check out the site in advance.
Hotels and Rentals Have Stepped Up
Hotels have upped their cleaning game, and even put a seal on room doors after they’ve been cleaned in between guests, to ensure no one enters before the arrival of new customers. La Siesta Resort in Islamorada is following CDC and local guidelines, like most hotels in the area. Housekeeping will not enter rooms during your stay, but are on hand should you need anything. This prevents traffic in an out of guest areas, ultimately being much safer. The pool facilities are still open, and guests have access to a private beach. Hotels are also implementing contactless check-in and check out.
Camping in Florida couldn’t be more ideal than right now! Dry Tortugas National Park has a unique recreational campground in which guests can fly by seaplane to or just take the ferry. Campsites are on a first come first serve basis, and it’s totally worth it as the snorkeling and diving are supreme and the sunsets unforgettable. Everglades National Park also offers camping. Long Pine Key and Flamingo Campgrounds are two options for outdoor lodging in the Everglades.
Rentals are Becoming Increasingly Popular
Rental homes in the Keys are also undergoing similar rigorous cleaning guidelines. Airbnb is doing an excellent job in ensuring their listings are thoroughly sanitized and receive a seal of approval between each guest. Being in a private abode could provide a little bit more protection than staying in a hotel.
Key West is More Strict About Masks
Key West is a little more strict than the rest of the Keys. If you’ve ever been to this adorable southern nook of Florida you’ll quickly understand why more precautions have to be put into place. It gets really crowded here. So face coverings are required anywhere in public, even if social distancing.
Beaches are Still a Fun Place
Things are about as normal as possible at public beaches within the region. Guests are doing a pretty good job staying spaced out, making it a good option for families or vacationing couples. From late hours in the night to the wee hours of the morning, the beaches are closed.
Reschedule Travel if You Feel Unwell
Most importantly, if you are feeling unwell, please stay home. Many cancellation policies at hotels and rental companies have become more relaxed, making it easier for travelers to cancel plans last minute. So just reschedule. You’ll have more fun anyway. Should you become ill while in the Keys, seek medical attention immediately. Call one of the local hospitals first to familiarize yourself with their COVID protocols. Check out more Monroe County guidelines on the coronavirus.