Garrett County leaders this week met with local realtors to discuss plans for the reopening of local rental units once the health crisis subsides.
Last month, Garrett County’s health officer banned vacation home rentals, saying that a surge in COVID-19 cases would cripple local resources. Now, with a statewide recovery plan in place, Garrett County leaders are working with local realtors to formulate a safe, effective, and gradual plan to ease restrictions on the tourism industry.
“We had a good meeting, discussing various options to open back up as quickly as we can in a safe way,” said Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens. “We will follow Governor Hogan’s guidance to determine the time to implement his ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ plan.
Revenue from Deep Creek Lake accounts for 45% of Garrett’s operating budget, according to the County.
“We appreciate the cooperation and understanding from our local business community,” said County Administrator Kevin Null. “This is a difficult situation that will take a lot of coordination to see through to the other side.”
According to a press release:
“Our local vacation rental agencies have been very responsive,” Stephens said. “They have done a great deal of work to be prepared for when the Governor will relax travel restrictions. It is our mutual desire to assure the health of our community.
The Governor’s recovery plan is a series of three stages, first allowing “Low Risk” activities to begin and moving into “Medium Risk” and “High Risk” levels of activities as benchmarks are achieved. Governor Hogan said the plan lays out a way to gradually and responsibly reopen Maryland’s economy while protecting the public’s health.
As the time for implementation draws nearer, the Governor will give Maryland counties guidance about what can open up during each stage, and county officials will, in turn, interpret that information for what it means in each county.
“It’s important to remember that the recovery stages have not yet begun,” Stephens said. “That means, if you own a vacation rental property in Garrett County, and you rent it while the travel restrictions are in place, you could receive a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.”
Garrett County leaders also recently met with officers from local law enforcement agencies to discuss continued enforcement of local and state orders that have been issued during the Maryland State of Emergency.
This safe, effective, and gradual approach to reopening the state is the only way we can reopen while still combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
For up-to-date information and state resources regarding coronavirus, including confirmed case counts and clinician guidance, visit http://health.maryland.gov/coronavirus.