(CNN) – The Florida Keys are closing for the foreseeable future.
The string of tropical islands, which are linked by a single highway, US 1, will be closed to visitors starting Sunday, March 22.
The unprecedented move will be a major blow to the tourism industry, but Keys officials say they are more concerned about the health and safety of residents, many of whom are elderly.
Hotels have been directed to stop taking reservations immediately.
Long-term renters with vacation homes or RVs will be allowed to stay until the end of their contract if it’s 28 days or more.