BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – For the first time in a month, tourists in Brevard County are allowed again to book a room.
The first guests to return to the Sea Aire Motel are longtime visitors who were excited to be back.
"When we found out yesterday they were open, we called them and told them we were on our way here. We'll be there in two hours," Ken Baker said.
Ken Baker and his wife, Alicia Baker, traveled from Lakeland Monday to celebrate his 60th birthday at the couple’s favorite place.
Tuesday, the couple shared the oceanfront view with the motel’s owner and manager, who they’ve been coming to see for years.
“He knew who we were on the phone. He said, ‘Come on down.’ We said, ‘We’ll be there,’” Alicia Baker said.
Manager Gary Jenkins said the Bakers called for several days wondering when they'd be able to visit again.
Jenkins said before the pandemic, every room was booked from March through May.
Canceled reservations translated into a loss of tens of thousands of dollars.
“We lost a lot of business, a lot,” owner Nita Breadwell said.
Breadwell's family has owned the motel for five generations.
"When I took this over in 1980, we've had a lot of hurricanes but never, ever a pandemic," she said.
Jenkins said the situation financially hurt all of the motel's staff.
"Thank goodness we're back," he said.
The county’s tourism ban is more than three weeks ahead of human spaceflight scheduled to return to Kennedy Space Center. But even though tourists can again book a room, NASA is telling them not to stay to watch the biggest launch in a decade.