New restrictions announced for Ocean City hotels amidst coronavirus outbreak

OCEAN CITY, Md. – Amidst the coronavirus pandemic Ocean City has announced major restrictions for hotels and short term rentals, shutting them down to most of the public.

“There are people who want to escape the reality of what they are seeing in their own state and it’s not safe for them to come,” says Susan Jones, the executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association. “There was a concern that there were people coming here from other areas who may be bringing germs with them. There was a real fear in the entire community of what was happening.”

Essentials workers like health care employees and first responders are now the only people who can make lodging reservations in the resort town through April 30th. “Even though there is a timeline put on it, if for some reason everything changes in a week declarations are probably such that you can change them if you need to,” says Jones.

“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,” says Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan. “These are unprecedented actions because these are unprecedented times.”

“So there were you know plenty of conventions that did cancel. So is there going to be a loss of revenue? Absolutely. Will it be a big amount? Yes,” says Jones.

But officials believe this is the only way to keep people safe and healthy and there’s a price they’ll have to pay. “When you look at the whole picture, economically, it isn’t just that hotel owner or the employee. It trickles down everywhere,” says Jones.

In the meantime, they’re encouraging people to plan vacations for later in the year and hopefully have something to look forward to. “People are there, the essential staff answering the phones so that it is possible to kind of plan your vacation for later and while you’re in the comfort of your home why not dream about what you might want to do when we can all get out,” says Jones.

Officials say the hotels that are still open for essential workers are using safe practices like online payments and booking to avoid in-person interactions.

“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,” says Meehan.

This 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 establishments should not accept new reservations for persons other than essential lodgers. The following are included as essential lodgers according to the emergency declaration:

  • Healthcare professionals
  • First responders
  • Law enforcement
  • National Guard members
  • State or federal government employees
  • Journalists
  • Others responding to COVID-19
  • Full-time residents of Ocean City who, for any reason, are temporarily unable to live in their primary residential home
  • Persons who must vacate their homes due to exigent circumstances such as fire or flood
  • Persons sheltering in hotels due to domestic violence
  • Hotel employees, service providers, and contractors

For more information and the full list of essential lodgers, click here.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, Maryland