MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Manatee County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to submit a plan for reopening vacation rentals.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order on Friday, putting Florida into “full” Phase One of reopening. In his order, the governor says counties can now apply to reopen their vacation rentals.
“Counties may seek approval to operate vacation rentals with a written request from the county administrator,” the order says.
The county’s safety plan for vacation rental operations will have to be submitted to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations.
8 On Your Side got a draft copy of the Manatee County guidelines Tuesday. They explain that international visitors are not allowed in vacation rentals and groups of 10 are not permitted.
The guidelines also lay out health and safety plans for rental works and guests.
Manatee County commissioners said staff worked through the weekend to come up with their plan.
“We were caught a little bit off guard,” County Administrator Cheri Coryea said.
The main topic of discussion Tuesday was trying to figure out when exactly vacation rentals should reopen.
The City of Holmes Beach mayor told commissioners her city is not in favor of moving forward to reopen vacation rentals.
“They have concerns about the effective date being sooner than they can get prepared for out there in their area,” Coryea explained.
The county administrator also said Bradenton Beach officials are not comfortable with the way the plan is written.
“There’s also concern that because there’s a holiday weekend coming up in just a few days that it’s going to be difficult to get things in order that quickly,” Coryea said.
The county administrator suggested commissioners could plan for vacation rentals to reopen May 27 instead of the initially-suggested date of May 22.
“We need to do what’s right for our community. And I hope that’s what happens as we move forward,” Commissioner At-Large Chair Betsy Benac said.
The commissioners made a motion during the meeting to submit their plan to the governor. Members of the public were able to voice their opinions after the motion was made.
Most of the members of the public who spoke were vacation rental owners who painted a dire picture of their financial situation. One owner told commissioners she had lost $100,000 during the coronavirus crisis and feared losing her home.
8 On Your Side stopped by The Coconuts on Holmes Beach. The managers said they have not had guests since March 28 and are ready to welcome back visitors.
“We want them here but we need to do it safely and slowly,” manager Wanda Bell said.