Mountain Home Inn at 810 Panoramic Hwy. in Mill Valley. Courtesy image.

For all of July and most of August to date, Marin businesses have been stuck in an inertia-laden holding pattern. With COVID-19 metrics – the number of coronavirus cases per 1000,000 residents and hospitalization rates – trending in the wrong direction, and with Marin County stick on the state’s Watch List, there’s been no progress toward reopening of any sectors since the end of June.

Those trendiness have shifted in a positive direction in recent days, so much so that Marin County Public Health has given hotels and short-term rentals the green light to reopen as of Aug. 24. County officials said the move is a reflection that Marin has gotten below 200 cases per 100,000 residents (currently 123.5). GO HERE for guidance that limits short-term rentals to one household or includes a group size limit.

“Thanks to our collective work, our progress in reducing spread of the virus in Marin is allowing us to take this step,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “We’ve now moved as far as we can into reopening given our status on the state’s monitoring list. With enough progress, we’ll fall off the list and can consider further reopening. That’s a clear goal for all of us and another reason to cover your face and practice physical distancing.” 

County officials said the reopening affects all lodging facilities within the county boundaries renting accommodations for 30 days or less, including in West Marin along the Pacific coast. The facilities had been closed to tourism since May 29; only first responders, essential workers, those quarantining or isolating due to COVID-19, residents evacuated due to fire, and homeless or displaced individuals were permitted to stay at the facilities since then.

The reopening plan comes as a relief to the county’s hotel businesses, which have faced restrictions for more than five months, Mark Essman, president and CEO of the Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Marin IJ. “The travel industry has been one of the hardest-hit industries with this pandemic,” Essman said. “In Marin County, it’s primarily a leisure market, so having to shut down has been a real hardship on most hotels.”

In addition to hotels and motels, the short-term rentals allowed to reopen include inns, bed & breakfasts, timeshares, and properties marketed through online rental services such as Airbnb and VRBO. Parties, events, or outside visitors (other than the renters, which must belong to a single household) will not be permitted indoors. Any gatherings outdoors must comply with the Social Bubbles guidance. Facilities that have pools, tennis courts, restaurants, and other food services must follow additional Public Health guidelines


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