Delaware lodging industry urges Governor to ease restrictions

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In a letter sent to Governor John Carney, the Delaware Hotel and Lodging Association (DHLA) urged him to reconsider his restrictions on leisure travel rentals.

As part of the 10th modification to his State of Emergency declaration issued on April 6, the governor closed commercial lodging to leisure guests. The category includes hotels, motels, inns, short-term accommodations, vacation homes, or condo rentals (such as Airbnb and VRBO).

The prohibition allowed exceptions, such as serving essential personnel or vulnerable citizens with no other options.

Although Phase 1 of the recovery plan, which is set to take effect June 1, will allow many businesses to resume operations in a limited fashion, short-term commercial lodging was notably not part of the mix.

“I am respectfully requesting that you strongly reconsider your Phase 1 plan as it relates to the restrictions you have in place for leisure travel,” said Delaware Hotel and Lodging Association Chairman Bill Silva in the letter. “Several other neighboring states have ‘opened for business’ welcoming vacation / leisure travelers to enjoy their beaches and attractions. Losing this business to other states, like Maryland or New Jersey, will cause irreparable financial loss to the hotels who rely on the seasonal vacationers.”

According to Mr. Silva, most of the hotels in Delaware are small businesses, many of which have taken on Paycheck Protection Program loans to provide a bridge to keep their hotels ready for the summer. “Hotels will not be able to sustain cash flow under the current restrictions as these loans come to an end,” he wrote. “This will result in closures and losses of many hotels, unable to recover from missing a key part of the tourist season.”

Mr. Silva says a lack of leisure lodging will severely undercut the state’s tourism industry, which supports about 44,000 jobs.

The DHLA notes some of its members have been operating responsibly during the State of Emergency, providing lodging to those guests not subject to the ban. Mr. Silva said Delaware hotels have increased sanitation, adopted practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, and are working with the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) and their Safe Stay initiative.

“I hope you reconsider the current restrictions and allow hotels to open for all business,” Mr. Silva’s letter stated. … “We firmly believe that a phased-in approach to leisure travel is necessary and would help support the hospitality industry, which represents the fourth largest employment segment in the state.”

The DHLA reports that more than 17,000 people are employed by Delaware hotels.