State approves Osceola's plan to reopen vacation rentals

  • Here is a "Frozen"-themed bedroom at a vaction home in Osceola County.
    Here is a "Frozen"-themed bedroom at a vaction home in Osceola County.
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The state of Florida approved Osceola County’s plan to reopen its vital vacation rental home industry Wednesday afternoon. 

Osceola sent Gov. Ron DeSantis its plan late Friday and State Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DPBR) Secretary Halsey Beshears gave the OK via email shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

“We appreciate the quick review of our plan and the state’s realization that the vacation rental home sector is a massive part of our economy,” said Osceola County Chairwoman Viviana Janer. “We know that this action will have a ripple effect in our community as there are so many small businesses that support the vacation rental market – from housekeepers, to lawn and pool maintenance workers, to security staff and caterers, to property managers and companies that handle the numerous details that surround a successful vacation.” 

Osceola County had asked for the move after the rollout of Phase 1 of the governor’s “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery.” The full Phase 1 of the plan began Monday, and his executive order allowed vacation rental homes to open with a county’s plan submitted to and approved by DPBR. 

In Osceola County alone, there are 30,000 licensed vacation home rentals that represent half of the county’s $60 million tourism development tax dollars, with many operated by management companies seeking to avoid permanent closure. Osceola previously estimated that vacation home rentals have a $2 billion impact on Osceola County’s economy. 

 Highlights of Osceola plan for vacation rentals includes: 

· Property owners and managers shall adopt the CDC related guidelines that are for public spaces, businesses, schools and homes. These re-open guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting expand upon what the state of Florida and DBPR already have in place for safety and sanitation for all lodging. 

· Property owners and managers shall provide COVID-19 guidance of local restrictions that are in place during the guest stay including closures, curfews, and other related local information. The county will post online where this updated local information can be accessible to lodging operators and guests. 

· All vacation rentals shall follow the SAFEHOME Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professional (VRHP) and Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) Cleaning Guidelines for COVID-19 which is both attached and can be found here: https://www.vrma.org/page/vrhplvrma-cleaning-guidelines-for-covid-19

· Any person coming from a highly-infected area, as defined per the governor's guidelines, must reserve a minimum stay of 14 nights and follow CDC self-quarantine guidelines. 

· Vacation rentals may not be used for events or group gatherings that exceed maximum occupancy. 

 

“We’ve Opened Safely”

On Wednesday, in a collaboration with the county, the cities of St. Cloud and Kissimmee, the St. Cloud and Kissimmee/Osceola Chambers of Commerce and other partners, the “We’ve Opened Safely” campaign was launched. Businesses can find more information by visiting www.weveopenedsafely.com. By agreeing to a checklist of safety measures, the companies can display a poster highlighting their efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The site will list participating companies and use social media hashtags #opensafelyOSC and #staylocalosceola