The checkpoints opened Friday morning and are manned by officers from the Keys’ Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. They are located at mile marker 112.5 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway (U.S. 1), and on State Road 905 between Ocean Reef and the access point to U.S. 1 in Key Largo.
Keys officials are unsure how long the checkpoints will continue.
The Keys have been temporarily closed to visitors since March 22 because of concerns about COVID-19’s rapid spread in the U.S.
“The purpose of the roadblock is just to reinforce our message to visitors that we love you, but now is not the time,” said Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers.
“Please stay home,” Carruthers said. “This is a disease that seems to be traveling quite quickly, so we’re doing whatever we can to contain it so that we can get back to work a little bit faster, and open up the Keys to everybody as quickly as possible.”
Only residents, property owners, and those actively involved in work in the Florida Keys are allowed past the traffic checkpoints -- as are fuel tankers, delivery and grocery trucks.
Keys leaders expect the coronavirus crisis to have a significant effect on the local economy. The tourism industry generated more than $1.8 billion for the economy in 2018, according to a recent study, and supports about 26,500 jobs.
Florida Department of Health statistics indicate several coronavirus cases in the island chain. Officials said Monroe County continues to follow the directives of the Centers for Disease Control, the Florida Department of Health, and State of Florida Governor's Office Executive Orders. The return of visitors is to be re-evaluated when conditions warrant.