KEY WEST (CBSMiami/AP) – Even though there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Florida Keys, in an abundance of caution three tourist attractions in Key West are being closed to the public.
The Southernmost Point, Smathers Beach and the sunset celebration at Mallory Square, where crowds gather nightly to watch the sunset, will close starting Tuesday, City Manager Greg Veliz said.
“We understand that this creates a burden on both our residents and our visitors,” Veliz told CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. He said additional closures could be on the way. “It’s vital that we work together to protect public safety during this health emergency.
Many beaches in Florida, including Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Hollywood Beach, and Dania Beach have closed to spring break crowds. But some have stayed open: Beaches in Clearwater, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, were packed with spring breakers on Monday afternoon.
The City of Miami tweeted that anti-social is the new social. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, told media outlets he plans to order all restaurants in the city to close their dining rooms and only offer takeout and delivery services. A final decision was expected on Tuesday, with the bans going into effect Wednesday morning.
Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County plan to announce similar measures which would also close bars, lounges, and entertainment venues including bowling alleys and gyms.
These decisions came after President Donald Trump asked Americans on Monday to limit travel, avoid crowds of 10 or more people and to stay out of restaurants for the next 15 days in an effort to stop the virus.
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a news conference Monday that his staff is reviewing the new federal guidelines, but he wasn’t ready to order across-the-board closures of restaurants and bars.
Florida also unveiled a new online dashboard that provides the public with a clearer picture of where the virus has hit. The COVID-19 surveillance dashboard provides a color-coded map that shows the intensity of infections across the state. It showed 142 positive cases and four deaths as of Tuesday morning.
Florida — along with Arizona and Illinois — decided to proceed with Tuesday’s presidential primary election. Ohio, Georgia, and Louisiana delayed their primaries, which had been set for Tuesday.
“Based on the best information that we have, we are confident that voters in Florida can safely and securely go to the polls and cast their ballots,” Secretary of State Laurel Lee said Monday.
Almost 2 million Floridians voted early.
The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people, but older adults and those with existing health problems can develop severe complications, including pneumonia. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
On Monday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he is limiting crowd capacity of recreational and social gatherings and establishments to 50 people. This includes shopping malls, restaurants, bars, churches and movie theaters. Office buildings, manufacturing plants, grocery stores and many other businesses are exempt from the limit.