Short-Term Vacation Rentals Approved To Reopen In More Tampa Bay Area Counties

May 21, 2020
Originally published on May 22, 2020 5:49 am

Four Tampa Bay area counties have received approval from the state for short-term vacation rental properties to resume accepting reservations and check-ins.

The rulings are effective immediately -- just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

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Governor Ron DeSantis said vacation rentals could resume under the "full Phase I" of his COVID-19 recovery plan -- as long as counties had their safety plan approved by the state.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation signed off on Pinellas' plan Wednesday, and on plans from Manatee, Sarasota, and Citrus counties Thursday.

Other Tampa Bay area counties, including Hillsborough, have submitted plans as well and are awaiting state approval.

Reservations from areas DeSantis has identified as "high-risk" -- such as New York and New Jersey -- must be for periods longer than the required quarantine period.

Property owners and managers will have to follow a number of safety and sanitation measures to reopen, and guests must practice social distancing.

In Pinellas County's letter to the Department of Business and Regulation, Administrator Barry Burton said tourism supported more than 100,000 jobs and contributed more than $9 billion to the local economy in 2019.

Manatee County County Administrator Cheri Coryea said the guidelines will be mostly self-policing but people who spot potential violations should report them.

“Because vacation rentals have been closed during the pandemic, we're asking that vacation rental managers take extra precautions to make sure their renters have access to and follow the guidelines in the approved plan," Coryea said. "(Owners) should ensure that their renters are aware and abide by the approved plan, but also any municipal restrictions in the city where the rental is located." 

As of Thursday afternoon, the department had also approved plans for 26 Florida counties, according to a list on the department website.

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