Officials lift lodging restrictions for Ocean City

On April 28, Ocean City extended the restriction to last until May 22, but officials said if Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan lifted his stay-at-home order, they would repeal their rules. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/abriggs21)

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OCEAN CITY, Md. — Officials in Ocean City, Maryland, are lifting a ban on lodging restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Rick Meehan made the announcement during a special city council meeting Thursday.

Ocean City banned hotels, motels and rental properties from renting out their rooms to nonessential guests in late March. The restriction was meant to protect visitors and residents as the pandemic worsened.

“Following Gov. (Larry) Hogan’s lifting of the stay-at-home order, the Town of Ocean City will be lifting lodging restrictions on short-term rentals effective Thursday, May 14 at 5 p.m.,” Meehan said in a statement Thursday.

“We encourage residents and visitors to follow health and safety guidelines, including physical distancing and gathering limits,” Meehan said. “Personal responsibility and individual comfort levels are incredibly important to exercise during each phase of recovery.”

On April 28, Ocean City extended the restriction to last until May 22, but officials said if Hogan lifted his stay-at-home order, they would repeal their rules.

Ocean City Hotel handle influx of calls

Ocean City’s move to lift short-term rental restrictions is leading to a swell in requests to book hotel rooms at the popular summer beach spot.

Michael Wooten works the front desk at Comfort Inn Boardwalk and said the outlook for business looks pretty good.

Wooten told WTOP they did recently raise their prices, but that hasn’t stopped people from looking to stay there.

“It’s a lot more than normal on past days when we got five or six calls over eight hours,” said Wooten.  “Now it’s about 20, 30 calls an hour.”

Over the course of May 13 and 14, Wooten said he has seen a few hundred people on the boardwalk along with a lot of traffic coming into town.

Last week, Ocean City reopened the boardwalk and beaches for residents to exercise but encouraged out-of-town visitors to stay away in the name of social distancing.

A person working the front desk at the nearby Paradise Plaza Inn also spoke to WTOP, saying the property reached 90% booking capacity for May 15 just an hour after Mayor Rick Meehan made the announcement allowing short-term rentals to resume.

Paradise Plaza Inn also expects to be at full capacity for this weekend by Saturday.

Wooten said doing away with short-term rental restrictions will be good for his Comfort Inn Boardwalk overall.

“It would’ve been better if none of this really happened at all,” said Wooten. “But it definitely is better that they ended it at least a week early.  That way everything will be ready for Memorial Day coming up next weekend.”

WTOP’s Ken Duffy contributed to this report.


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