Key West’s City Manager, Greg Veliz, announced this morning that the city has reopened parks, beaches and recreation facilities to those who live on the island. Veliz said that playgrounds and water features will remain closed for now.
“Although we are currently under a a restrictive order as it pertains to businesses, we do understand the need to begin to allow our residents to resume some sense of normalcy while exercising personal responsibility and social distancing,” he wrote in a letter posted on Facebook.
Veliz also said that the city anticipates “that we will soon have the ability to lift the closure of non-essential businesses” as it monitors more announcements from Governor Ron DeSantis.
Update: This afternoon, City spokesperson Alyson Crean sent media a copy of the City’s State of Local Emergency Directive 2020-06 which spells out the conditions for the re-opening of the city’s recreational areas.
With the exception of immediate family members, residents must remain six feet apart and must not congregate in groups larger than 10. Playgrounds, restrooms, public pools and splash pads within the recreational areas shall remain closed. The directive also says that “wherever practical” individuals shall wear protective coverings over their face and nose when interacting with others.
The city makes it clear that if users don’t abide by the social distancing directives spelled out in the directive they could lose the privilege. Additionally, the City Manager may shut down any of the recreational areas where there is an issue with individuals failing to maintain appropriate physical distancing.
The directive will be reassessed daily.
A Letter from City Manager Greg Veliz:
For the past couple of weeks, the City of Key West has been working with local businesses to develop an outlook for our resilient recovery. Often, although staff is working feverishly, we fall short in relaying these efforts to our citizens. In troubling times, we must do better communicating and reassuring citizens that your City government is moving to restart our economy in a responsible manner.
Much like our national and state leaders, we have determined that the best way to proceed would be a phased approach. Although we are currently under a restrictive order as it pertains to businesses, we do understand the need to begin to allow our residents to resume some sense of normalcy while exercising personal responsibility and social distancing. To that end, effective Monday, April 27, 2020, the City of Key West will be opening its parks, beaches, and recreational facilities to local residents. While playgrounds and water features will remain closed for now, we hope that by easing some restrictions on public space our residents can enjoy the natural environment Key West has to offer. Residents are encouraged to responsibly distance themselves from each other while spending time outside of their homes.
We are closely monitoring all announcements from the Governor so that we can respond in a manner that reflects the unique needs of Key West. We anticipate that we will soon have the ability to lift the closure of non-essential businesses. These businesses and their customers should expect all the protective measures currently in place at essential businesses, such as masks and enhanced sanitation, will also be necessary.
It is anticipated “non-essential” retail and personal services will be opened first with enhanced protective measures and continued social distancing where possible. However, the City’s ability to do so is dependent upon the state lifting the current stay at home order. The City will continue to collaborate with our community to be ready to open businesses when allowed to do so. Understand that the City of Key West whole heartedly supports the maintenance of the informational checkpoint in the upper keys and envision Key West’s businesses serving a local clientele in the early phases of our recovery.
We understand that these are very difficult times for our residents and that you are depending on your City Government for answers and actions. Rest assured that we are planning our actions based upon public safety and economic stability, and we will provide answers as they become available. As you know the City of Key West acted swiftly in the early days of this pandemic to ensure the safety of our residents and it is our promise that we will act in the same manner as we approach our recovery.
Gregory W Veliz