Florida Keys
An island in the Florida Keys [Credit: Local 10]

Florida Keys to shut all hotels and short-term rentals

US: As the shadow of coronavirus casts further over the sunshine state, the Florida Keys has announced that all of its hotels and short-term rentals must shut.

Monroe County, which houses the Florida Keys, declared any hospitality offerings housing guests must shut for the time being.

The call was made after the virus spread in counties north of Monroe, and as the county itself tested its first positive candidate. The order will last in place for at least two weeks from 22 March, effective immediately.

The state refuses to mandate any rules for hotels, although many are closing on their own terms to promote safety. In the nearby counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, all non-essential businesses have been closed and strict social isolation practices have been put in place.

Florida’s economy has a heavy dependence on hotels and tourism, serving as a spot for a majority of American holiday visits. The short-term rental industry in the state had recently gone through a boom, due to the influx of people entering for the Super Bowl.

The county plans to keep many of its public resources open for the time being, primarily its parks and beaches, with social distancing guidelines in place. Hotels must evict its visitors by next Sunday at the very latest, and all other businesses must maintain fewer than ten people in the same room at once.

Places across the world are closing down hospitality businesses and engaging in greater social distancing practice this year- most recently the United Kingdom. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday the whole country would enter lockdown procedures, preventing people from leaving the house except for essential items.

The state of Florida is adding an extra 14 days of quarantine to any travellers coming in. This is primarily from those coming from the American epicentres of New York and New Jersey.

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