Suspension Lifted — State Approves Opening Nassau County, FL Short-Term Rentals With Restrictions
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) approved a safety plan on May 20, 2020, that was submitted by Nassau County officials, permitting the operation of short-term vacation rentals in accordance with provisions of Executive Order 20-123 issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 15th.
Approval of the multi-point plan came just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, traditionally the official start of the critical summer tourist season. Following the state’s approval, the county has issued Executive Order No. 10 codifying the safety plan, during the Coronavirus public health emergency.
“I want to thank our local vacation rental management professionals and county officials for their help and cooperation in getting a workable plan submitted so quickly, and the state for its swift review and approval,” stated Gil Langley, President and CEO of the Amelia Island CVB. “Hopefully, the timing will give visitors another accommodation option for this important travel weekend.”
April 2020 Occupancy Down 89% Vs. Last Year
According to Langley, the timing could not have been better for the county’s vital tourism industry, which in April reported its worst performance ever. Compared to the same month in 2019, occupancy was down 88.9%, the Average Daily Rate fell 51.6%, and RevPar – revenue per available room – sank 94.6%. “Clearly, the only way to go is up, and the return of short-term rentals is an important step,” said Langley.
Guest Screening & Safety Requirements
Vacation home rentals are an increasingly popular option for many travelers, making up the largest percentage of available rooms in the destination. The approved plan for reopening was developed with input from the Amelia Island Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) and members of the local vacation rental industry with the goal of establishing guidelines and best practices to ensure guest safety. It details several specific parameters regarding occupancy limits, guest screening requirements, social distancing guidelines, requirements for staff and cleaning procedures (see more details further below).
Beaches, Restaurants & Retail
All Amelia Island beaches are open with social distancing guidelines (see recent beach-related articles). For potential visitors wondering about eating out and shopping, Florida restaurants may offer outdoor seating with six foot space between tables and indoor seating at 50% capacity. Retailers can operate at 50% of indoor capacity, as well.
Langley wants visitors to know the destination is still operating under the terms of several state and county orders regulating area beaches, restaurants, hotels, and attractions, and travelers from specific parts of the country. “We’re happy to be welcoming visitors back, but want to do so safely, and with the understanding that we all respect agreed upon guidelines to protect their health and the safety of local residents and hospitality workers,” added Langley.
Vacation Rental Restrictions
There are various visitor restrictions and guidelines to comply with Nassau County Executive Order No. 10, effective May 20, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:
- A maximum occupancy 10 people per vacation rental property.
- Outdoor seating of pool areas or outside of the rental grass areas or sand areas shall provide for at least six (6) feet of separation between guests.
14-day Self-Quarantine For Following Visitors:
- Any guest that has been on a cruise within fourteen (14) days of booking
- Any guest that has been out of the continental United States within fourteen (14) days of booking
- TRAVELERS FROM “HOTSPOT” STATES: Individuals or groups coming from the New York Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey or Connecticut) and Louisiana. (In the event the Governor issues subsequent Orders addressing vacation rentals and/or “hot spots, those restrictions will be incorporated into the local Order.)
NO INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS — Reservations from international travelers shall not be accepted, nor booking accepted.
Cleaning Protocols For Vacation Rentals
- Units shall not be rented for at least an 18 hour time period between guests to allow for cleaning and inspection of the unit
- Diluted household bleach solutions, cleaning products with at least 70% alcohol and certified cleaners that are CDC compliant shall be used
- Employees, including housekeeping personnel, shall wear masks and gloves for cleaning and for public interactions
- Cleaning inspections separate from the cleaning personnel shall be utilized to inspect the cleaning of each unit by inspectors wearing gloves and masks
- All employees shall have a wellness check upon arrival. Staff members who have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will not be permitted to work
- Hand sanitizer shall be provided in all common areas like lobbies, pool decks, elevators and in rooms
There are additional guidelines, so please refer to the Nassau County, Florida Emergency Management COVID-19 Executive Order No. 10, signed on May 21, 2020, to read the full details about Amelia Island (Nassau County) short-term vacation rentals and restrictions during the Coronavirus pandemic. Questions about the Executive Order No. 10 can be sent via eMail to: [email protected] (or call the Nassau County Manager’s Office at 904-530-6010).
Penalty For Violating A Provision
According to Executive Order Number 10 (Section 11), the penalty for violations of a provision of the order by visitors (or the rental property owner or property manager) “shall be a second-degree misdemeanor, a violation of which is a $500 fine and/or sixty (60) days in jail.”
The Amelia Island CVB has sent out a “tool kit” to the county’s hospitality partners, with a variety of resources to assist in implementing the new “Nassau County Short-Term Vacation Rental Plan.”
SOURCE: News release dated May 20, 2020, Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, CVB website, and Nassau County Executive Order No. 10.