Maui, Big Island, Kauai reopen short-term rentals to guests not under quarantine
- Jun 23, 2020 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
Short-term rentals have resumed operations in three Hawaiian counties — Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai — as of June 16. The reopening only applies to guests not subject to the state of Hawaii’s COVID-19 quarantine.
Hawaii requires out-of-state guests to quarantine for 14 days once they arrive in the islands. They can quarantine in a hotel or motel, but not at a vacation rental. That means short-term rentals are only allowed to host interisland guests or out-of-state guests who have already completed their quarantine. The quarantine for out-of-state travelers continues through July 31.
Hosts who violate the law by renting to guests subject to quarantine could face up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The move in the three counties follows Hawaii Governor David Ige’s latest proclamation, which allows mayors to reopen short-term rentals.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell hasn’t allowed short-term rentals on Oahu to reopen. He issued a guidance bulletin stating “short-term rentals may not operate during the term of the Order, and they are not legally recognized places for visitors to lodge or self-quarantine.”
Meanwhile, a group of vacation rental owners from four islands has threatened to sue over what they call unequal treatment compared with hotels and other types of lodging.
“The emergency orders have singled out vacation rentals as nonessential businesses while allowing hotels, motels, timeshares, and condo-hotels to continue to operate as essential businesses. This has resulted in the state and counties affirmatively discriminating against lawfully operating business owners,” said a letter addressed to Ige and four county mayors, signed by attorneys Gregory W. Kugle and Joanna C. Zeigler.
As Maui has allowed short-term rentals to get back to business, leaders there are also considering permanently reducing the number of vacation rentals. The Maui Planning Commission is considering a bill that would cut the number of short-term rental permits on Maui and Lanai from 349 to 278.
The cap wouldn’t apply to short-term rentals in apartment-zoned buildings not required to have a permit, currently numbering 5,575 units. The council has banned vacation rentals altogether on Molokai.
Palm Beach County holds off on bringing short-term rentals back
In Palm Beach County, Florida, officials had planned to allow vacation rentals to reopen beginning June 15. However, that opening has been postponed due to fears about coronavirus resurgence in the county.
“Data over the past few days has shown some increases in hospitalization, some increases in percentage of new COVID-19 cases over the past weeks and a bump in influenza-like illnesses in our emergency rooms,” the county stated on its website.
Governor Ron DeSantis closed short-term rentals statewide March 27 while motels, inns, and other short-term accommodations have been allowed to stay open.
Last month, DeSantis announced that Florida counties may submit proposals for reopening short-term rentals, which the state will consider on a case-by-case basis. Those proposals must address safety procedures designed to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Short-term rentals have already resumed operations in the majority of Florida’s counties.