As one of the responses to the COVID-19 situation, the Garrett County Health Officer, with the support of the Board of Garrett County Commissioners, has ordered all transient rentals in Garrett County to be closed effective March 27, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. This closing does not include hotels or motels.
Garrett County is unique because it is populated with many properties that are used as residential “Transient Vacation Rental Properties” (TVRUs). Generally, these properties are not being offered as traditional “lodging” but rather for rental on multi-day, week, monthly or seasonal basis.
The Board of Garrett County Commissioners supports the declaration made by the health department.
“Because of COVID-19, the rental of these TVRU properties has placed, and has the likely potential to place, a significant burden on the health resources of Garrett County, and may unduly lead to the spread of COVID-19,” said Health Officer Bob Stephens.
“I have determined that it is imperative, and in the interest of public health and safety, that all TVRUs be closed, and not further rented,” Stephens said. “This means all existing bookings be canceled. This decision applies to all Transient Vacation Rental Unit properties until or unless the Governor’s Orders are further modified or the Interpretive Guidance of the Office of Legal Counsel directs otherwise.”
This means all existing bookings must be canceled until the Governor’s “Prohibiting Large Gatherings” order is lifted.
The TVRU category includes individually rented properties such as Airbnb and vacation rental by owner, whether individual managed or coordinated through a management agency. Because of this, they are being used as a business being conducted by the owners and are not considered an essential business, and they are not included under the Governor’s Orders and the Guidance that permits certain “Lodging” to remain open.
Information and updates about COVID-19 in Garrett County and around the world are available at garretthealth.org. Residents who have medical questions about the virus may also call the Health Department COVID-19 Hotline at 301-334-7698.