Occupancy numbers at all vacation, rental and resort properties in B.C. will soon be restricted

The B.C. government is set to unveil strict rules on Airbnb, cabin, and houseboat rentals.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the province is in the process of putting together an order requiring those who rent properties, whether it’s boats or rooms, to limit the numbers of guests and visitors to those premises as part of the rental agreements.

The restrictions will be applied to all vacation properties, rental properties, and resorts across B.C.

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“As with most of our orders the onus falls on the owner-operators to ensure that the restrictions are being followed,” Henry said.

“We’ve seen the challenge is that people get together and then they have parties and they invite people over. So it will be restrictions on the numbers of people based on the size of the houseboat, or the boat, or the room, but also restrictions on visitors that will be in those rental properties as well.”

The province is still finalizing exactly what the maximum occupancy will be. Consultations are currently underway with those who know the industry best to make sure there is a “reasonable and practical enforceable law.”

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Concerns over room occupancy have peaked just as the numbers of COVID-19 cases linked to Kelowna has spiked. There are more than 1,000 people in isolation across the province linked to the Kelowna outbreak that included two hotel parties.

Henry is advising people to stay within their own social bubbles and hopes the new restrictions on rentals will ensure groups are gathering only with people they know.

The province was originally looking at putting the new rules in place solely in the Okanagan, but have now opted for a province-wide approach.

“That order will apply across the province because we know that this is not just an issue in the Okanagan,” Henry said.

“This is an issue that has affected vacation and rental places across B.C. This will be another step in ensuring that we have those provisions in place that reduce the numbers of people who are gathering and the risk to all of us when this virus is transmitted.”

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Local law enforcement and public health enforcement will work to ensure the capacity guidelines are followed once create.

Henry also has also put in new guidelines around restaurants.

There will be a maximum capacity of no more than six people at a table, dance floors and karaoke will not be allowed and some venues will be required to close at 11 p.m.

But the province’s top doctor is also recommending the maximum occupancy number be applied informally to other parts of life.

“Our restaurants have a requirement of no more than six people per table. That is a manageable group that reduced risks. You can use this number as your guidance for other social activities, whether it’s a small group going to the beach, whether you’re going to park, whether you’re going to have a get together at a friend’s place, keep your groups small,” Henry said

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