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Florida Starts Reopening to Travelers in June—Here’s What You Need to Know

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The Florida Keys reopen to travelers on June 1.

Photo by Zhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock

The Florida Keys reopen to travelers on June 1.

The Florida Keys, Miami, and Walt Disney World plan to reopen to tourists in June and July. But before you throw your weekender bag over your shoulder, read up on Florida’s coronavirus travel restrictions, including a mandatory quarantine for those coming from certain states.

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Just in time for summer, the Florida Keys and Miami plan to reopen to tourists on June 1. Universal Orlando will reopen to the general public on June 5 (with limited capacity), and the Walt Disney World Resort recently announced that it has a tentative reopening date of July 11.

But this will not be a typical summer in Florida as the state slowly reopens following business closures that were put in place throughout the state to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In the Keys, the first phase of reopening will require lodgings to be limited to 50 percent of full capacity. Hotels and tourism establishments will need to follow disinfecting and social-distancing guidelines issued by the Florida Department of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, and face masks will be required for both tourists and hospitality industry workers. Officials did not say how long these measures would last. The majority of the beaches in the Keys are currently open, but beachgoers are being asked to remain in groups of 10 people or fewer.

The reopening plans in the Keys are contingent on the Keys and south Florida not experiencing a “significant” increase in coronavirus cases, according to Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers, who didn’t specify how many cases would constitute a significant increase. 

In Miami, beaches, hotels, and spas are planning to reopen on June 1 as well. Restaurants, museums, retail stores, attractions, salons, and city and county parks have all already been given the green light to open. All beachgoers in Miami Beach will be required to have a face mask on hand to show to local authorities when asked, and they must wear the masks if a distance of six feet cannot be established between groups who are not from the same household. Officials said they will mark areas on the sand to indicate six feet of distance between groups. Hotels have a long list of health and safety guidelines they will need to follow to reopen.

Florida has 67 counties and each is taking a slightly different approach to reopening businesses first for residents and then to visitors. It will be a process. Here is where things stand thus far.

Who is allowed to travel to Florida right now?

Florida is a popular place. Last year, 131.4 million people traveled to the state, according to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing organization, and more than half of those visitors drove there. For those still hoping to travel there in the near future, there are several factors to consider.

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The most significant one is the fact that anyone traveling to Florida from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Louisiana is currently required to self-quarantine for 14 days, or for the duration of their stay in the state, whichever is shorter. Military, emergency, health-care, and infrastructure response workers, those involved in commercial activity, and individuals who live in Georgia and commute to work in Florida are exempted. The quarantine orders were put into place at the end of March by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and they have no set expiration date. They apply whether visitors are arriving by car or by air.

Anyone who is required to quarantine is responsible for all of their own costs associated with their self-isolation, including transportation, lodging, food, medical care, and any other expenses.

Upon arriving in Florida, each traveler or family is required to complete a form that includes the traveler’s (or family’s) contact information and trip details. Violation of the quarantine order is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in prison and/or a fine of up to $500. Incoming travelers will be provided with a card that has contact information and guidance for what to do in the event that they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.

As for international visitors, as per U.S. government restrictions, foreign nationals who have been in China, Iran, Europe, the United Kingdom, or Ireland in the previous 14 days will be denied entry into Florida.

Are the roads to Florida open?

All of the roads and highways into Florida remain open. Florida Highway Patrol are stationed at the Alabama-Florida state line on the I-10, where they are screening out-of-state visitors. Incoming drivers should also expect other checkpoints along other highways.

Also of note for road-trippers: To reduce the risk of transmission for toll workers, tolls are being collected electronically on Florida’s Turnpike. When you come to a toll plaza, you don’t need to stop—you will be billed through “toll-by-plate”—a snapshot of your license plate will result in an invoice being sent via mail, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. There are also “exact coin lanes,” where there is no toll operator and you can submit exact payments in coins.

Are there flights available to Florida?

All of Florida’s major airports, including Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, and Orlando International Airport, remain open. While service has been reduced due to a downturn in demand, there are still plenty of flights operating to these hubs from throughout the United States, including on American, United, Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue.

Which businesses, hotels, and attractions are open in Florida?

As stated above, Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World both recently announced reopening dates of June 5 and July 11, respectively. Universal Orlando reopened its CityWalk shopping area with limited hours on May 14, and Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs dining and shopping district partially reopened on May 20.

Hotels in Florida were never required by the state to close, but many were forced to temporarily close due to a demand nosedive or because of city or county restrictions. Now, many that closed are starting to reopen. Check with each individual property to see whether it is open or plans to reopen soon.

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Starting on May 18, individual counties were able to request approval to begin allowing vacation rentals to operate anew (on March 27, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order barring vacation rentals in an effort to deter nonresidents who were fleeing to the state from locations that were experiencing larger coronavirus outbreaks). There are 67 counties in Florida, and as of May 28, 50 counties had been granted approval for vacation rental operations. They include Bay, Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gulf, Highlands, Jackson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Monroe (which includes the Keys), Nassau, Okaloosa, Orange (which includes Orlando), Osceola, Pinellas, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, St. Johns, Wakulla, and Walton counties. A comprehensive and regularly updated list of which counties are allowing vacation rentals to operate is available on Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation site.

On May 18, Florida also eased the restrictions on numerous businesses. In addition to delivery and take-out services, restaurants and dining establishments throughout the state are now allowed to have eat-in service as long as proper social-distancing measures are put in place and capacity is limited to 50 percent. Outdoor seating is allowed when there are six feet between parties and parties consist of 10 or fewer people. Bar seating is not permitted.

Retail stores, museums, libraries, gyms, and fitness centers have been allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity, too. Bars, clubs, and movie theaters statewide remain closed until further notice.

Are Florida beaches and parks open?

Numerous trails and areas of Everglades National Park reopened this month.

Most Florida beaches are open, and Visit Florida has a comprehensive county-by-county list that breaks down the status of the beaches in each county. For counties where the beaches are open, there are different rules and restrictions that are specific to that jurisdiction. Before visiting, read up on the regulations surrounding specific beach destinations so that you’re fully versed in what you will and won’t be able to do on the sand. For instance, some only permit walking, jogging, and riding along the beach, while others allow sunbathing, but with social-distancing measures or time restrictions in place.

Florida State Parks have begun to reopen for day use, albeit with limited hours, capacity, and amenities, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which recommends going to the site of each individual park for the fine print. Some national parks in Florida have also begun to reopen a portion of their recreational areas and trails, including the Everglades National Park, Big Cypress, and Biscayne. All of the islands in the Dry Tortugas National Park are closed until further notice, but the park’s marine waters and harbors are open.

Social distancing and safety in Florida

Just like anywhere in the country, Florida reminds residents and visitors that they should follow the CDC’s latest guidance about COVID-19 and what we can all do to minimize our risk and the risk to others, which includes frequent hand washing and social distancing.

Wearing face masks is not a requirement state-wide, and each individual county has different requirements and recommendations regarding face masks, so you should double-check the requirements for wearing masks in the destination you are interested in visiting.

If you want to know the latest numbers for coronavirus cases and deaths in Florida, the state’s health department maintains updated counts on its website, along with other helpful information about Florida’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

This story originally appeared on May 20, 2020, and has been updated to include current information.

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