California Vacation Rental Restrictions and COVID-19 Updates

California Travel and COVID-19 updates:

California state and local governments have announced new COVID-19 related restrictions for travel. As of December 3, 2020, all individuals living in the State of California are currently ordered to stay home or at their place of residence, except for permitted work, local shopping or other permitted errands, or as otherwise authorized.

  • Regional Stay Home Order
    • As of December, Governor Newsom issued a Regional Stay Home Order that will go into effect at 11:59 PM the day after a region has been announced to have less than 15% ICU availability. 
      • The order prohibits private gatherings of any size, close sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others.
    • Newsom also issued an additional supplemental order that goes into effect immediately. 

Updated 12/09/2020

As the U.S. begins to reopen following many shelter-in-place orders instituted in mid-March, vacation rental bans and restrictions across major cities have left property owners and guests searching for clear answers. California short-term rental restrictions put in place due to COVID-19 concerns have been particularly difficult to navigate, both for travelers and vacation rental owners alike. 

At TurnKey, our local team of experts has been tracking and updating our calendars in real time to operate in full compliance with these restrictions. So we created this resource for travelers and homeowners to learn more about this complicated situation.

Here’s everything you need to know about vacation rental restrictions in California since COVID-19 and during its phased reopening. We will update this page as travel continues to resume and destinations reopen.

Recent History of California COVID-19 Restrictions

On March 19, 2020, under the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, the State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health issued a statewide order requiring Californians to stay at home to limit the spread of COVID-19. Since then, the reopening of California has been scattered throughout its 58 counties, with some counties reopening sooner and with fewer restrictions than others.

The regional stay-at-home order enforces counties with critically low ICU capacity to enforce new restrictions. The restrictions are as follows:

  • Blue Regions (affected by the Stay at Home Order) are regions that have reached an ICU capacity below 15%
  • Once triggered, these regions must prohibit gatherings of any size, close operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and require 100% masking and physical distancing.
  • Restaurants can remain open for takeout and delivery but not in person dining
  • All retail is allowed to remain open at 20% capacity
  • Hair salons, barbershops, personal services businesses, bars, and wineries must close
  • Offices can remain open only for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible
  • Hotels and lodging can remain open for critical infrastructure support only
  • Vacation Rentals are still allowed to operate for in-state travel as well as interstate travel for essential travel unless specifically restricted in county order. 

Are vacation rentals open in California?

It depends on the county you want to stay in, the ICU bed availability in that county and the purpose of the guests stay.

According to the California COVID-19 website, “When a region first falls below 15% ICU bed availability, the Regional Stay Home Order goes into effect there the next evening at 11:59 PM.”

California released a map of the five regions being measured in the Regional Stay Home Order: 

  • Northern California: Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity
  • Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma
  • Greater Sacramento: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba
  • San Joaquin Valley: Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne
  • Southern California: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura

The Regional Stay Home Order has enforced that “no hotel or lodging entity in California shall accept or honor out of state reservations for non-essential travel, unless the reservation is for at least the minimum time period required for quarantine and the persons identified in the reservation will quarantine in the hotel or lodging entity until after that time period has expired.” 

When the order is in effect in a region, restrictions are as follows:

  • Hotels and lodging can only offer accommodation for COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures, treatment measures, accommodation for essential workers, or providing housing solutions, including measures to protect homeless populations. 
  • Hotels and lodging cannot accept or honor out-of-state reservations for non-essential travel, unless the reservation is for at least the minimum time period required for quarantine and the persons identified in the reservation will quarantine in the hotel or lodging entity until after that time period has expired.
  • Additionally, the Travel Advisory remains in effect.

When it comes to how the order applies to short-term vacation rentals, it’s less clear. The variance in these rules is complicated and it remains imperative that travelers and property owners remain informed on the regulations in their specific counties. 

We created this resource to help guests and homeowners navigate market restrictions, closings, extensions and openings while the rules around STR operations continue to change across the US

What is open in California?

According to Visit California, “theme parks remain closed, and large spectator events and conventions are forbidden.” 

What is open?

Most hotels, campgrounds, RV parks, restaurants, wineries, museums, family entertainment centers, retail operations, beaches and national parks, including Yosemite National Park, are open or in the process of reopening, with restrictions.

Visitors should call ahead to their intended destination to learn about local restrictions. To find local guidance, here is a collection of California’s local and regional tourism offices.

Can I operate my vacation rental in California?

The operation of your vacation rental in California depends upon where your properties are located and who you plan to allow to visit. 

Different counties continue to impose a variety of restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19, including minimum night stays and not allowing out-of-state travelers.

Make sure you visit your local and national government sites for the most current and updated information on the area of interest.

If you are a TurnKey homeowner, we have a team of local experts in each of our markets updating booking calendars and ensuring compliance with any STR restrictions in real-time.  

For more information on regulations in specific counties, you can contact The California Department of Public Health or other local agencies directly. 

Are vacation rentals safe?

If you plan to travel in the coming months, vacation rentals can provide private accommodations away from crowded public spaces or gathering areas, like hotel lobbies. This increases your ability to social distance and avoid groups of 10 or more people, which is still viewed as a best practice for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Some vacation rentals also offer keyless entry, to avoid in-person interactions when accessing the home. All TurnKey vacation rentals come equipped with keyless locks, offering a zero-contact check-in experience. In addition, unless there is an emergency, our local staff will not visit the home when a guest is present. 

To travel safely you should bring your own groceries and provisions with you, listen to local guidelines like wearing a mask in public and practicing social distancing, take the same precautions that you would at home, and check the cleaning guidelines for where you plan to stay.

TurnKey Vacation Rentals’ enhanced home cleaning standards

In response to COVID-19, we have enhanced our cleaning standards in line with CDC guidelines, and to verify the use of products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19.

In addition, here are some recommendations for traveling safely and responsibly (view the full article here):

  • Plan ahead to avoid unnecessary exposure while running essential errands.
  • Practice social distancing at public areas and shared amenities.
  • Protect yourself and others by bringing face masks, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies, and other items to follow safety guidelines as closely and stress-free as possible.
  • Respect neighbors and local communities through social distancing and keeping noise at respectful levels, especially at night or early in the morning.
  • Check state and local updates on recommended behavior.
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