In a news briefing Friday, Gov. DeSantis announced that he is open to reviewing County requests for allowing short-term vacation rentals.
Okaloosa County Commissioners, Tourism Development Council, staff and the County attorney are working on a plan to submit to the state.
“Most importantly for our local economy, the Governor indicated that a letter is going to each county authorizing county government to submit a plan to reopen vacation rentals to his office to for review”, wrote Commissioner Nathan Boyles in an email. “As of the writing of this email, his office has still not sent that letter or released the executive order implementing any of his directives from the press conference today. The Governor did specifically note the low incidence of Covid-19 cases in the panhandle which seems to be an indication he will look favorably on plans submitted from Northwest Florida.”
The TDC will make recommendations on Monday, for the staff to bring up for discussion at Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 19 at 8:30am.
“Any plan would be required to take into account CDC guidelines, COVID sanitation protocols, and restrictions on visitors from high COVID impacted states,” said Destin City Council-member Parker Destin. “This process of developing a plan is already in motion with staff for the City of Destin, Okaloosa County Commission, Okaloosa County Health Department, and Okaloosa TDC coordinating the development of rules over the weekend. For my part, I will do my best to ensure that any short-term rental reopening plan, if adopted by the County and submitted to the State for review, will come from a data-driven decision process that will put the health and safety of our citizens first, while attempting to bring the economic relief so many of our Okaloosa citizens need as fast as responsibly possible.”
In Walton County, staff indicated that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is to provide guidelines for such safety plans. According to officials, Walton County has developed a reopening plan framework and is awaiting the guidelines from the DPBR.
“With those guideline in hand, we will compare them with our prepared plan to ensure that it complies with the DPBR guidelines,” wrote Walton County. “We are working closely with our Tallahassee lobbyist and the Governor’s office to facilitate this process and to move our plan through the system as rapidly as possible.”