Coronavirus delays in opening Cape Cod for short-term rentals could be ‘absolutely devastating’

What is beyond the pandemic? Front mass is MassLive’s series examining the journey of Massachusetts small businesses through and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

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Summer is approaching and for Cape Cod communities that normally means it is time for tourism to boost the economy. However, with Gov. Charlie Baker announcing on Tuesday the extension of his executive order for the closure of non-essential businesses until May 18, real estate agents have become concerned.

Cape Cod’s economy is driven by short-term rentals between June and August, according to Ryan Castle, CEO of the Cape Cod Island Association of Realtors, making the prospect of extended shutdowns worrying for many people outside the area. rental.

“Short-term rentals are the lifeblood of the whole economy,” Castle said. “From restaurants to shops, to the paddleboard shop and so on. So I think it will have a negative effect if summer is not what it should be.

Baker announced restrictions on hotels and short-term rentals in Massachusetts on March 31, preventing them from hosting vacationers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“People don’t know what they’re going to do yet. I think it’s kind of a wait-and-see approach to see what happens, ”Castle said.

The restrictions, issued by a ministry of public health order, state that short-term rentals, hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts and similar accommodation services are not permitted to accommodate people on vacation, even if they have already booked.

Castle told MassLive vacation home tenants are waiting to see how it all plays out.

The Cape Cod Island Real Estate Association provides advice to its members through webinars, industry updates and development seminars.

“We actually advised our members, a few days before closing, not to do short-term rentals,” Castle said. “At least until Memorial Day, to try to save the summer. Because we know summer is vitally important to many homeowners and businesses around Cape Town, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. “

Baker announced on Tuesday that he was extending Massachusetts’ home stay notice until May 18, two weeks later than the scheduled state opening. He added that medical experts believe business closures, stay-at-home notices and other measures have helped reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Some business leaders across the state continue to press for Baker to lift the executive order shutting down non-essential businesses. A group of demonstrators driven to the governor’s house to Swampscott, asking him to reopen.

“I don’t think any of us know what’s around the corner, but we’re hopeful,” Castle said. “We are hopeful because Cape Cod has always been a destination by car and hopefully [when] this virus gets out of the way, people will not go abroad. They will not go on a cruise. They may not go where they planned.

Castle is convinced that not only will business in the vacation real estate industry be successful in the summer, it could even be better as people will seek vacations closer to home rather than risk taking the vacation. plane to an overseas destination amid the pandemic.

“A lot of calls from our customers asking about cancellations. The majority still want to come, ”said Carla Hemmings, Leasing Manager for Oceanview Realty. “Our cancellations were minimal compared to what they can be.”

According to Castle, some realtors are implementing a 30-day cancellation policy over the summer. But he added that until there is more direction on when the ban on short-term rentals is lifted, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen.

Many rental companies are not only considering adjusting their cancellation policies in light of the coronavirus, but also reducing the prices of vacation homes in Cape Town.

“I’ve heard that some people maybe should lower the prices, but I think right now it’s all on the line,” Castle said. “People don’t know what they’re going to do yet. I think it’s kind of a wait-and-see approach. “

Hemmings said if the state did not open Cape Town during peak periods between June and August, it would be devastating for the region.

“If they were to close completely, which means they don’t allow us to do short-term rentals during that particular period. It would be devastating, absolutely devastating for Cape Town, ”said Hemmings. “We rely on tourism and we rely on these special months.”

MassForward is MassLive’s series examining the journey of Massachusetts small businesses through and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

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