Vacation rentals could open to Louisiana visitors

Santa Rosa County plans to expand who can book vacation rentals, including adding parts of Louisiana to the allowable list under COVID-19 limitations.

At this time, 12 states throughout the U.S. are barred from renting along Navarre Beach due to coronavirus concerns. The limitation, approved by the state earlier this month, is set at 500 infections per 100,000 population statewide.

At the urging of Tourist Development Director Julie White, the board of county commissioners voted May 28 to submit a modified plan focused on county-by-county infection numbers to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

She pointed out that while one area of a state may have significant infection rates another area may be relatively low risk.  

“The method that we chose to use—that was at the time the best method to use—isn’t going to change. We need to find a new way to move into monitoring this,” she said.

County Administrator Dan Schebler proposed submitting the modified plan either utilizing real time infection rate data at the county level from either University of Virginia’s GIS system or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting.

White pointed out that most of the states on the list don’t heavily visit the county, but Louisiana is a common location visitors come from to the area. While the county-by-county method would allow residents of certain areas of Louisiana to rent condominiums and rental houses in the county, a state executive order would still require all incoming visitors from Louisiana to self-quarantine for 14 days or the length of their stay in Florida, whichever is shorter.

Schebler said their action would not impact that order and the requirement would remain in place.

States currently barred from visiting are Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Rental companies are currently required to submit the ZIP codes of their renters for county review.

Any plan modification would have to be assessed and approved by DBPR.

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