Worcester County closes all non-essential, short-term rentals

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Worcester County has declared that all non-essential, short-term rentals in West Ocean City, Ocean Pines, and all other unincorporated areas of Worcester County should be cancelled until the Stay-At-Home order is lifted at the direction of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

These emergency measures have been implemented to stop the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Worcester County.

The latest steps, outlined in a new emergency declaration, restrict short-term accommodations for hotels and rentals to essential lodgers. This 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.

“We recognize that the actions we are taking here today are unprecedented, in fact many of us have never seen or experienced such restrictions before in our lifetimes,” Commission President Joe Mitrecic said. “But these measures are meant to protect the public health by stopping the spread of COVID-19. These measures will, ultimately, save lives. We truly look forward to a day in the not too distant future when we can once again roll out the welcome mat and get back to the business of being a world-class destination that attracts residents and visitors from across the globe. But, today is not that day.”

The emergency declaration adopted by the Worcester County Commissioners earlier today states that hotels, motels, and other lodging establishments or short-term 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 Worcester County, 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.

“Our goal is to elicit voluntary compliance with the county’s latest emergency declaration,” Mitrecic said. “However, due to the deadly nature of this health crisis, in instances where these directives are not obeyed, we are prepared to fully enforce this action.”