Short-term rental businesses and hosts are welcoming the province loosening restrictions on them June 5.

The province announced June 4 that short-term rentals could resume with proper health and safety guidelines followed. The province had limited rentals since April 4 to only be allowed for emergency housing due to the pandemic.

Howard Hicks owns a cottage rental in the County and uses Airbnb. He said he is glad for smaller hosts being able to have guests again.

“I feel happy for a number of owners who are the small potatoes, they own maybe one cottage and they need the income to help with taxes and expenses,” Hicks said.

The change encompasses short-term rentals at lodges, cabins, cottages, homes, condominiums and bed and breakfasts.

“This decision follows additional actions the government has taken to support our provincial seasonal travel and tourism in Ontario,” MPP Laurie Scott’s office said.

Cottage Care Rentals (CCR) co-owner Cheryl McCombe said the professional rental agency is not yet taking bookings but is working towards that and getting guidance from the local health unit. She said they had more than 100 new inquiries come in within a day after the announcement.

“We are really pleased with the cautious, staged open of the province,” McCombe said. “We are proceeding cautiously.”

She said the bulk of their business is in July and August, giving them time to work out proper protocols and communicate with their hosts. Rentals opening is an important reprieve for city dwellers, McCombe said.

“The need for Ontarians to vacation is paramount for their mental health, for their kids that have been stuck at home,” McCombe said.

“I don’t anticipate a family with young kids is going to arbitrarily decide to expose themselves aggressively in this community,” CCR co-owner Don Critchley said. “I fully expect families will act responsibility, just out of self-preservation and respect for us.”

As far as public concerns about larger gatherings or parties at rentals, McCombe said the agency screens guests to avoid that. Hicks said he shares concerns about large gatherings, both in rentals and non-rentals.

“If people break the rules that are in place, and have more than 10 people, then I think there should be consequences. Because this is a serious situation and obviously the rules have to be adhered to strictly,” Hicks said. “If a cottage owner or a short-term rental has a party, they’re breaking the protocol that is keeping us safe.”

“We’re just cautiously moving forward and waiting till we get all the protocols that we need. We will follow all those protocols,” McCombe said. “That’s really important.”

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