The road block at Florida City that was set up in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma last week to keep both residents and tourists out of the island chain while officials worked to rebuild infrastructure was lifted Tuesday morning.
Smaller road blocks will still be in place on side roads in hard-hit areas in the Lower and Middle Keys to keep looters out.
Contractors will be allowed in these areas, but deputies and Army National Guard soldiers will keep a detailed log of who these people are, “their vehicle description and tag number, when they enter and when they leave and who they are working for,” said Deputy Becky Herrin, media relations officer for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said in a press release.
“County leaders today met and decided it was time to take the next step,” Herrin said in a statement Monday night. “Many people need to bring in friends, family members and contractors to begin work on their homes and property.”
The county allowed residents living in the Middle and Lower Keys to come back home beginning Saturday. Upper Keys residents from the Matecumbe keys to Key Largo — areas not as severely impacted by Irma’s winds and storm surge — were permitted to return last Tuesday.
Sheriff Rick Ramsay says his officers will patrol neighborhoods for looters, “suspicious persons and curfew violators.”
"We will not tolerate people who take advantage of our citizens," Ramsay said. "If we catch people looting, committing theft or burglary, price gouging, or committing fraud of any kind we will do everything we can put the offenders in jail.”
"We need to make sure no one is entering these neighborhoods who doesn't belong there,” Ramsay said. "We will be working hard to make sure our citizens and their property are safe from those who would take advantage of the situation."
Curfews are still in effect throughout the county. In the city of Key West, curfew is from midnight until dawn. From Stock Island to mile marker 47, it’s dusk until dawn. From the mile marker 47 north to the county line, curfew is 10 p.m. until dawn.
Tourist are still not allowed in the Keys.
“It will take a bit more time for services to be restored to the point that the county will be ready to welcome visitors in,” Herrin said.