As confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the Florida Keys, the Key West City Commission on Tuesday will consider installing a nightly curfew.
The city on Friday announced an emergency meeting had been set for 10 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall and on Zoom to discuss starting a midnight to 7 a.m. curfew. Monroe County restricted restaurant hours for a while earlier this year, from late July through early September, in an effort to keep people off the streets overnight.
“We’ve got to tighten up right now before the holidays,” Key West Mayor Teri Johnston. “We’ve got to take some additional precautions.”
Johnston said the curfew, if approved by the commission, would mirror the curfew Miami-Dade County has had.
Miami-Dade’s spanis from midnight to 6 a.m.
Passersby on Duval Street in Key West wear masks on Nov. 3, 2020. The city of Key West is considering a curfew to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Keys, with a population of more than 76,000, on Thursday reported 51 new cases of COVID-19 and on Friday reported an additional 45 — larger numbers than usual for the island chain.
The total known cases stacked up to 2,522 on Friday with 1,215 of them in Key West.
Over the past 14 days, the Monroe County has confirmed 338 cases, 208 in the past week, according to Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.
Total cases from the past 14 days: 338
Key Largo has 326 known cases while Marathon has 239 and Tavernier, 158. The rest of the island chain’s keys have double-digit totals.
“We’ve tried to hold off as long as we could,” Johnston said. “Right now, we just keep getting higher and higher numbers.”
And the island’s winter season is approaching, she noted.
Key West had a busy, and at times chaotic, Halloween weekend.
Some 2,000 college students came down from the mainland, Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg.
Large fights broke out on lower Duval Street on Halloween weekend as crowds swelled, police said. At one point an officer said he had to push his way through about 300 people in the 200 block in order to get to a crime scene.
Police made a slew of arrests for disorderly conduct.
Crowds are expected to keep coming to Key West as occupancy rates are staying strong, Brandenburg said.
“This weekend, we’ll have extra people out for sure,” Brandenburg told the city commission on Wednesday. “The following weekend, I’m told occupancies are way up. We’ll have a plan in place for that as well.”
The curfew meeting was announced one day after the city announced it was taking float applications for its annual Holiday Parade, set for Dec. 5.
“Masks will be required and there will be no candy handed out this year, in keeping with strict CDC guidelines,” said city spokeswoman Alyson Crean.
Also, the parade route or format may be changed, she said.