FLORIDA KEYS (CBSMiami) – The number of COVID-19 cases in the Florida Keys continues to spike, Monroe County commissioners held a special emergency virtual meeting to discuss protective measures.
First the good news about lobster mini-season.READ MORE: Rapper Pooh Shiesty, Now Facing Federal Charges, To Remain Locked Up
At the outset of the meeting, County Mayor Heather Carruthers expressed her concern.
“There are things, events, that bring crowds, crowds are a thing we should avoid,” she said.
Lobster mini-season brings big crowds to the Keys. Hotels, motels, and rentals are booked months, sometimes years, in advance.
The commission discussed the idea of sending a letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission asking that the mini-season be canceled in the Keys.
“I think we should go ahead and send the letter. It won’t accomplish anything, that’s okay, but it will get the ball rolling in case we need it next year. Let’s see how everyone behaves this year,” said Commissioner Sylvia Murphy.
Commissioners heard from several people who had already booked rooms or condos and were afraid if the season was canceled they wouldn’t get their money back.READ MORE: Monroe Co. Has New Re-Entry Stickers In Case Of Checkpoints
“I think it’s too late with all the reservations made, people are starting to come down in a few days to change that,” said Commissioner Craig Cates.
“We need to keep the mini-season open,” said mayor pro tem Michelle Coldiron. “I cannot support writing a letter right now.”
In the end, they decided not to send a letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission asking it to cancel the upcoming lobster mini-season on July 29-30.
They did however decide to limit boat ramp access in Key Largo to follow the Village of Islamorada’s closures. Rowell’s Park and Bay Drive will be closed to the public, and Sunset Point and Harry Harris Park will only accessible by residents from Friday, July 24 to Sunday, Aug. 9. During this time, nonresidents will need to seek a private boat ramp or seek a public ramp elsewhere in the Keys.
The commission also voted to make changes to their vacation rental plan.
In late May, they sent a rental plan to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) that was approved for vacation rentals to reopen on June 1. Now they plan to send another letter requesting changes to their original plan. The commission will request that vacation rentals have a maximum capacity of two people per bedroom plus two, meaning a two-bedroom vacation rental can have a maximum occupancy of six people.
The amended plan will also require that the name and telephone number of the rental manager be posted on a sign visible from the road. The signage requirement will enable neighbors, law enforcement, and code compliance to direct complaints about noise, excessive occupancy, and other violations to the manager.MORE NEWS: University Of Miami Study: Male Reproduction Not Affected By Pfizer, Moderna COVID Vaccines
The commission also tweaked its mask ordinance by setting the payable amount of a citation at $250 for violators who do not wish to contest the citation in court. The Board also withdrew a provision requiring businesses to close for three days if an employee tests positive with COVID-19 so that provision can be reworked.