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Coronavirus in Florida

Gov. DeSantis suspends new vacation rentals amid coronavirus concerns

Local jurisdictions had already implemented prohibitions

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday issued an executive order enacting a statewide ban on vacation rentals.

Local jurisdictions had already implemented prohibitions, but the order means that Airbnb, VRBO, and other short-term rental providers are on ice.

The order notes that “Florida is experiencing an increase in individuals fleeing to Florida from out-of-state locations where ‘shelter-in-place’ orders are being implemented and/or community spread exists.”

From there, the claim is made that “many cases of COVID-19 in Florida have resulted from individuals coming into the State of Florida from international travel and other states, posing great risk to Florida residents.”

Given that “vacation rentals and third-party platforms advertising vacation rentals in Florida present attractive lodging destinations for individuals coming into Florida,” the order suspends most such rentals immediately.

Exempted from the ban: stays slated to begin no later than March 28.

Carveouts are also in place for “persons performing military, emergency, governmental, health or infrastructure response, or travelers engaged in non-vacation commercial activities.”

Those violating the order are subject to criminal sanctions, including potential 2nd degree misdemeanor charges, and potential revocation of vacation rental licenses for flouters.

“DBPR shall supplement this directive with guidance or directives as necessary to implement the order and shall take steps necessary to inspect licensed properties or third-party platforms whereby Florida vacation rentals may be advertised,” the order promises, adding that “DBPR shall alert the state authorities to evidence of violations or attempts to violate this order.”

Vacation rental expert Wendy Shultz, founder of The Simple Life Hospitality, says vacation rentals could have been a solution for those looking to self-isolate because it requires less face-to-face interaction than a hotel.

“How do they quarantine themselves for 14 days if they can’t be with family?” she said. “It almost seems like a vacation rental would be the perfect place for someone to self quarantine.”

Ironically, DeSantis was opposed during the 2020 Legislative Session to state efforts to regulate that sphere.

“My view,” said DeSantis, “is probably that should be determined locally.”

DeSantis issued a second executive order contemporaneous with the vacation rental prohibition, instituting checkpoints on I-10 with an eye toward Louisiana tags.

Earlier this week, the Governor issued another order, requiring travelers from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York to self-isolate for 14 days.

“All we’re trying to do is keep our residents here safe. If you’re coming from one of the epicenters, we probably think that you should follow the directions of your state and local officials, and if they’re telling you to shelter in place, then do that, but don’t come here because we’re trying to protect our folks,” DeSantis said.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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