Vacation Rentals, Shops & Restaurants Now Open with Precautions
Short term rentals in Franklin County have been given the green light to reopen this week following the approval by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation of Franklin County’s plan for keeping the community and vacation rental industry safe.
Franklin County submitted its plan last week and county officials received approval to reopen on Tuesday, May 19 as did every other coastal county that submitted a plan between Franklin and Escambia counties.
Franklin County’s plan for reopening includes a ban on renting to overseas travelers during the first phase, or to any person who lives in an area with substantial community spread of COVID-19.
The Franklin County plan also includes detailed instructions on how the rental homes will be cleaned including everything from the types of cleaning agents that can be used to what type of protection house cleaners have to use while working.
Vacation rentals now join area hotels & inns, restaurants, shops and other tourism-related businesses in a precautious reopening of Florida’s Forgotten Coast. According to local officials, the go-ahead was welcome news ahead of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
“This is a welcome step to returning back to some sense to normalcy,” said Franklin County Commissioner and TDC chairman Ricky Jones. “The whole effort to reopen has involved people from the industry and local and state government all working together.” Jones particularly praised Representative Jason Shoaf for his efforts to help save the North Florida tourism economy. “I know State Representative Shoaf was knocking on doors every day to make this happen and we appreciate his efforts.”
Beyond the county’s safety plan, however, Jones said that what really was going to make people feel more comfortable with reopening the community is the County’s increased COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibody testing that is currently happening in Apalachicola, Eastpoint and Carrabelle. “We realized that the safety plan itself won’t make people feel safe,” Jones said. “What is going to make our residents feel safe is continued testing and continued low positivity rates. And we’re doing that.” According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 300 people have been tested in Franklin County to date with only two positive cases which have since recovered successfully. Healthcare officials from the county’s local hospital, Weems Memorial, along with other State healthcare officials currently offer COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 antibody testing.
Tourism officials are very pleased about the news of reopening news and say they have already launched promotions and deals designed to entice visitors back to the Forgotten Coast.
“We are happy to invite our visitors back to their home away from home,” said John Solomon, Franklin County Tourist Development Council Director. “We have so many outdoor activities that are perfect for social distancing and our communities are more than ready to get back to work with precautions in place.”