By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Florida Keys have begun cracking down on coronavirus violators and are even considering putting up a checkpoint, to prevent visitors from coming into the island chain, to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi says, “We are now over 700 cases in the last six weeks since we opened the checkpoint. Some folks are not behaving properly. That’s why we are seeing the spike that we are seeing.”

While the checkpoint was up ten weeks, no non-Keys residents were reported to have the coronavirus.

Cases in the Florida Keys hovered around one hundred, with four deaths reported. Now, there are six dead.

“Last Friday, we had eight people in the hospital. Now, we have 21. Threefold in just one week. Do the math and we are going to run out of hospital space real quick,” Gastesi said.

So Monroe County is cracking down, trying to flatten the curve.

Starting July 24th through August 19th, all restaurants and bars will be closed at 11 p.m. and no alcohol will be sold between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Law enforcement is ready and looking ahead to signature events, such as lobster mini-season.

“We are probably going to treat lobster mini-season similar to what we did during the Fourth of July and try to curtail the crowds as much as we can. That worked well and we had a good Fourth of July.”

Masks are already required whenever locals and visitors are within six feet of each other, inside or out.

Business owners are responsible for customer compliance and law enforcement will cite those who do not comply.

“Yes, the checkpoints are under consideration. It is still on the table. Not something we want to do. Again, we hope we can manage with the measures but checkpoints are on the table, yes,” adds Gastesi.

Also, if a Keys’ business finds that an employee has tested positive, they must disinfect and close for three days.

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