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DeSantis Suspends Vacation Rentals; Hotels, Resorts Exempt

Valerie Crowder

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued on Friday an executive order that bars vacation rental owners from accepting new guests for the next two weeks. But the measure doesn't apply to resorts, time-shares, hotels or inns. 

“What’s the difference between them going to the Holiday Inn versus my condo? The Holiday Inn has a lot more money in their pocket than I do," said Karan Ankney, an Ohio resident who owns a rental condo in Panama City Beach. 

DeSantis' order prevents owners of vacation rental houses and condos from making new reservations or allowing guests to check-in through April 10. Those who advertise or accept new guests during the two-week period could face misdemeanor charges and lose their vacation rental license. 

Ankney says she received her first booking cancellation after the Seabreeze Jazz Festival was postponed until next year. After the city called off the spring Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally, another guest rebooked for October.

"It's hurting us," Ankney said. "But I completely understand because I wouldn't want someone to go somewhere and feel unsafe."

To comply with Desantis' order, she plans to cancel a booking she received for April 10. And she says she's refunding everyone's deposit. "I treat people how I want to be treated."

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.