Florida to ease up ban on vacation rentals – so long as visitors are not from New York!

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Screengrab NBC News

With New Yorkers fleeing to Florida more than any other state in the country, as the U.S. Census Bureau has reported — 63,722 people in 2017 alone — the influx of their northern neighbors is well known in the Sunshine State.

But just as many Floridians wish they could leave their liberal politics behind, Gov. Ron DeSantis feels the same way about COVID-19, considering the Empire State remains the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Republican governor announced that he may soon ease a ban on vacation rentals, telling counties they can submit plans to begin allowing short-term stays again — with one stipulation.

New Yorkers are not welcome just yet.

“If you tell me you’re going to rent them out to people from New York City, I’m probably not going to approve that, OK?” he said, according to the Bradenton Herald.

“If you’re saying that, you know, you’re going to rent it out to people in other parts of Florida or something that would be manageable or if there’s ways in there that clearly you have an eye to safety, then I’m fine.”

For what its worth, New York has had 193,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 15,786 deaths, while Florida, which has 2 million more people, has had 45,000 cases and 1,973 deaths.

The irony here is that the media touts New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic, while DeSantis — a Trump ally — is regularly panned.

DeSantis banned vacation rentals on March 27 in an executive order aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, the paper reported.

The governor announced during a news conference Friday that beginning Monday, May 18, vacation rentals will be allowed to host guests again if the state signs off on their proposals.

Counties are to submit vacation-rental reopening plans to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation for approval.

Airbnb’s Florida policy director, Tom Martinelli called DeSantis’ announcement “a good start,” the Herald reported.

“We’re glad that the governor has listened to the many voices who have called for the reopening of vacation rentals in Florida,” Martinelli said in a release. “As conveyed, vacation rentals are an important part of Florida’s economic recovery as they remain a key source of income for thousands of hosts, small businesses and local governments across the state.”

On the other hand, Denis Hanks, the executive director of the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association, is concerned about how long the approval process will be.

“The relief for places like the Panhandle and others that are contingent upon the Memorial Day weekend and being open, it could really take them out of the whole picture,” Hanks told the newspaper.

This is not the first time DeSantis has singled New York out.

Concerned travelers may “seed” the Wuhan virus in Florida, the governor issued an order requiring people flying in from the New York area to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival back in late March.

The executive order included New Jersey and Connecticut travelers also.

Gov. DeSantis has stood by that call: “I have no doubt that quarantine saved lives.”

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Tom Tillison

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