One of my family’s favorite summer traditions is Lobster Mini Season, the two-day statewide spiny lobster hunt that takes place during the last Wednesday and Thursday of July. We spend time in Key West each summer, so that is our home base for Mini Season, and we were nervous that in this era of Covid, the event might be cancelled. The good news for Floridians (and bad news for lobsters!) is that Mini Season will go on in 2020, albeit with restrictions in the Florida Keys.
Throughout the pandemic, Munroe County has remained fairly cautious. In fact, in an effort to head off the Coronavirus, it closed its doors to visitors beginning in March and did not reopen until June 1st of this year. After reopening to tourists at a limited capacity, the County’s Covid numbers have increased, and its elected officials have been very wary of Lobster Mini Season due to the large number of tourists that the event attracts, even going so far as to ask for its cancellation. While Mini Season has not been cancelled, it is going to be quite a bit different in 2020.
New restrictions in place for the Keys 2020 Lobster Mini Season include limited public boat ramp access in Marathon and Key West, with some ramps open only for locals and those who can prove that they are renting homes and others closed down entirely. Restaurants will need to close by 11:00pm and alcohol sales are prohibited between 11:00pm and 7:00am daily across the Keys. Anyone in the Keys should have a mask handy and will need to wear it if they cannot socially distance themselves from others, while in Key West masks are required to be worn in public at all times. These restrictions are aimed at limiting tourism during a normally busy event in order to keep residents and tourists safe from the Coronavirus.
In addition to regulations to keep people safe and healthy on dry land, the typical Lobster Mini Season rules do still apply. In the Keys, the daily bag limit is set as 6 lobsters per person, the minimum size limit is still enforced, there is no night diving, etc.
While it might be a different experience this year, my whole family is looking forward to our time on the water during Lobster Mini Season – and to a lobster feast on Wednesday night!