The Florida Keys is shuttering 5,000 hotels and closing itself off to visitors starting Sunday

Florida Keys

  • All of the approximately 5,000 hotels and overnight accommodations in the Florida Keys will close for two weeks beginning Sunday, March 22 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Visitors currently staying in hotels and vacation rentals in Keys will have until 6 p.m. on March 22 to evacuate.
  • The announcement comes on the heels of other closures in the Keys, including tourist hotspots as well as theaters and museums.
  • Closures across Florida meant to enforce social distancing haven't stopped spring breakers from flocking to beaches in full force.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Following an increase of COVID-19 cases in south Florida, the Florida Keys will close all lodging establishments including hotels, campgrounds, and short-term vacation rentals for two weeks beginning Sunday, March 22.

Monroe County officials instructed hotels to stop taking new reservations on Thursday and to instruct hotel guests to depart by 6 p.m. on Sunday. The Keys are home to more than 5,000 lodging establishments totaling 16,500 units. Visitors who have booked a monthly or multi-month rental will be permitted to stay for the remainder of their reservation, the Keys Weekly reported.
"We sit on the border of the counties with the highest concentration of COVID-19 in the state of Florida. We have to flatten the curve," Marathon Mayor Steve Cook said in a virtual press conference on Thursday.

Earlier this week, the city of Key West closed down Smathers Beach and Southernmost Point, two of its most popular gathering spots, to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The city also ordered theaters, museums, charter boats, tour vehicles, and fitness centers to shutter operations, the Keys Weekly reported.

Monroe County has restricted restaurants to delivery and takeout, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered bars and nightclubs across the state to close.

Though cities across are Florida are taking measures to restrict public gatherings, shutdowns haven't stopped college spring breakers from flocking to Florida beaches, like Panama City, that are still open.

DeSantis has left the decision to shut down beaches in the hands of local Florida governments, Business Insider's Hillary Hoffower reported. The New York Times suggested that DeSantis may be hesitant to disrupt Florida's $86 billion tourism industry. Read more:

Coronavirus live updates: Here's everything we know.

'We're not worried about it:' Photos show the coronavirus pandemic isn't stopping spring breakers from crowding beaches and partying on booze cruises

A demographer says Florida could be 'like an uber-Italy' during the coronavirus, and it shows why it's so important for young people to stay at home

4 million people who work in the US hotel industry could lose their jobs in the coming weeks due to the coronavirus

Marriott announces CEO Arne Sorenson's salary will be suspended for the rest of the year and senior executives' salaries will be reduced by 50% as the coronavirus ravages the hospitality industry