Ocean City enacts lodging restrictions to combat spread of coronavirus

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The Ocean City Mayor and City Council continue to take drastic actions to stop the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The latest steps, outlined in a new emergency declaration, restricts short term accommodations for hotels and rentals to essential lodgers only through April 30, 2020.

The declaration includes but is not limited to hotels, motels, condo-hotels, rental properties, inclusive of private renters or management companies and HOAs, Airbnb, VRBO style lodging and other overnight accommodations.

“These are unprecedented actions because these are unprecedented times,” commented Mayor Rick Meehan. “This is incredibly difficult time for everyone, but the only way we can stop the spread of this virus is to work together. Visitors should NOT visit Ocean City at this time, but are encouraged to reschedule or plan for future visits when this health crisis passes.”

According to the declaration, hotels, motels and other lodging establishments or rental properties shall not accept new reservations for persons other than essential lodgers.

Essential Lodgers as defined by the emergency declaration include: healthcare professionals and/or first responders, law enforcement, national guard members, State or federal government employees, journalists, others responding to COVID-19, full-time residents of the Town of Ocean City, who, for any reason, are temporarily unable to reside in their primary residential home; or persons who must vacate their homes due to exigent circumstances, such as fire or flood, persons sheltering in hotels due to domestic violence or hotel employees, service providers, and contractors.

“These exceptions are meant to ensure that we have a place for individuals who must be in Ocean City because they are helping in this emergency, or those who have nowhere else to go, such as domestic-violence victims or those who had to vacate their homes unexpectedly,” Mayor Meehan said. “Voluntary compliance is our goal, but we will enforce this to the full extent if it’s not obeyed. This health crisis is deadly and the only way for all of us to stay healthy is to stay home.”

The Town of Ocean City is currently working with the Hotel Motel Restaurant Association and Chamber of Commerce to ensure that everyone is complying with the various State and local travel restrictions. Along with the emergency declaration restricting short-term accommodations, the State of Maryland has issued several travel restrictions, including a Stay-At-Home directive. For additional on the State of Maryland’s response, visit https://governor.maryland.gov/coronavirus/.