Cedar Key re-opens for visitors

Published: May. 10, 2020 at 5:21 PM EDT
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One North Central Florida hot spot is back open after almost a month of being closed to visitors. we'll show you how Cedar Key city officials are preparing for the crowds to return.

When weekend destinations started closing around the state because of COVID-19, crowds flocked to Cedar Key.

Vice-Mayor Sue Colson said, "people had nowhere to go and they flock here because they know we're small and safe and isolated so we were the destination of choice. Which is wonderful in a healthy time because the economy would love it, but we didn't think we could physically sustain it and stay safe."

Residents held a town hall meeting and decided they needed to close the island to visitors because there was a severe lack of social distancing.

Police Chief Virgil Sandlin said, "we had the special meeting on a Monday and we closed down Tuesday morning. That weekend it was close to being a festival weekend I mean Cedar Key was packed."

Tv20's Landon Harrar reported "it was here on bridge number 4 police set up a roadblock and were turning people away. They say during the week it was about 60 people they would turn around, but on that first weekend, they turned around 400 people trying to come on the island. However, not all of them left empty-handed."

They instead were offered overflow from the Cedar Key food bank said, Sandlin.

"Your consolation prize for not being able to get into Cedar Key we gave you a head of cabbage to leave, the next week was cucumbers. So we had fun with it."

Businesses on the island spent their off-time doing repairs but are excited to finally welcome visitors back

Leanna Bryan is a manager at Steamers restaurant who said, "even with a 25 percent capacity it's better than nothing it gets my employees working and people out seeing things again. Everybody gets a bit stir crazy at home."

Colson added, "we're going to let anybody who wants to come there's no limit."

Sandlin said, "we need the revenue we need the business. Folks need to get out of Gainesville and other places and just need fresh air so come on down just please, social distancing, social distancing."

While shut down, UF helped test more than 500 Cedar Key residents for coronavirus so they can easily monitor any potential outbreaks.