Summit County officials hope to reopen all short-term lodging June 1 if governor approves variance
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the county’s recommendations that short-term lodging facilities wait 24 hours after guests leave before allowing any staff into a hotel-style room and leave 72 hours between rentals.
BRECKENRIDGE — If Summit County’s request for a variance from the Colorado public health order is approved by the state, all short-term lodging businesses would be allowed to operate starting June 1.
The Summit County Board of Health announced its intention to lift the ban on short-term lodging at Wednesday’s joint meeting with the Summit Board of County Commissioners.
“The intention is for us to go forward with the June 1 lodging date,” County Manager Scott Vargo said. “That is contingent, in some regards, on whether the governor withdraws his actions as it relates to short-term rentals and/or we receive our variance, which would be an allowance for Summit County to have a restriction that is different than the state.”
The county’s safer-at-home order tentatively prohibited the operation of short-term lodging — hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, timeshares and short-term rentals like VRBO and Airbnb — through May 31. Wednesday’s decision makes that date final on the county’s end. However, it is still contingent on either the state’s approval of the county’s variance request or an amendment to the state public health order.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the county’s variance request to open short-term rentals and restaurants had not been approved. Vargo said the state is currently looking at 44 variance requests and that Summit County’s could be approved any day.
Colorado’s safer-at-home order has allowed hotels to operate since its inception April 25 but excludes “short-term vacation-style rentals” such as privately owned homes and rentals operated by online services like Airbnb and VRBO.
Under the county’s decision, hotels and other types of accommodation will be allowed to operate beginning June 1. Private, short-term vacation-style rentals will have to wait on permission from the state. If the variance is approved, short-term rentals will be able to open as long as they are following the county’s extensive guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The county outlined the requirements for short-term lodging facilities in its variance request. Before opening, businesses and short-term rental owners will have to fill out the county’s physical distancing protocol form. The completed form must be available upon request and posted in a clearly visible location on the properties.
Short-term lodging facilities also will have to implement a number of physical distancing measures. This includes signage and space configuration to ensure a 6-foot distance between guests, employees and anyone else who enters the property. They also must implement protective measures by requiring masks, performing health screenings and providing personal protective equipment.
The owners and property managers will have to educate guests on the requirements, including wearing face coverings in public places, physically distancing, reporting symptoms, staying home if they are sick and practicing good hygiene.
The county is also requiring lodging owners to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing areas. All common areas except for lobbies will be locked off from public use in places that have them, such as hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and timeshares.
Finally, the lodging facilities will have to discontinue housekeeping services while guests are in rooms to minimize contact. The county also recommends facilities wait 24 hours after guests leave before allowing any staff into a hotel-style room and leave 72 hours between rentals.
The current ban has greatly affected short-term lodging revenue. Some owners said they expect a 50% drop in revenue for the year.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the commissioners also discussed ideas to communicate the public health rules to guests entering the community. Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said she liked Eagle County’s “five commitment” campaign to remind people to wear face coverings, stay 6 feet apart, stay home if they’re sick, wash their hands often and get tested if they have symptoms.
“I think it makes sense to boil it down to something simple,” she said. “‘Welcome to Summit County. This is how we’re staying safe.’”
The other commissioners agreed it would be a good idea to use the “five commitments” as a blanket message to put in lodging, post on social media and send out to short-term rental owners.
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