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Federal judge upholds Key West’s New Year’s Eve Curfew

Photo: Erwan Hesry

The city of Key West can keep a 10 o’clock curfew for New Year’s Eve and through the weekend.

Tuesday a federal judge denied a motion to block the curfew.

Mayor Teri Johnston wants to prevent the big crowds that usually gather downtown for the midnight countdown. Attorney William Athas represented Andrew Day, who sued the city. Athas said the curfew wouldn’t work.

“The virus doesn’t look at a clock. The virus is going to strike at a 9 a.m. breakfast, a 12 noon lunch or a 5 p.m. cocktail hour.”

Athas argued that the curfew violates Day’s first amendment rights to free speech and assembly. Michael Burke represented the city. He said the curfew has lots of exceptions allowing people to move around the island.

“Mr. Day’s not confined to his house. It doesn’t regulate what he can say or who he can say it to, to anybody.”

At a city commission meeting earlier this month, Day said the three-day curfew would cost his family three thousand dollars – his wife works as a bartender downtown.

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