Summer Rentals Impacted By COVID-19

An executive order prohibiting nonessential lodging during the pandemic is still in place.

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Restrictions in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus are casting a shadow of uncertainty over what summer will look like on Connecticut's shoreline.

"We are solid booked and we may not be able to accommodate them," said Perry Garvin, president of Garvin Family Corp.

Garvin's family has been renting out cottages on Hawk's Nest Beach, a private family resort in Old Lyme, since 1895. This season, their 125th, is up in the air.

"I cannot do anything until we get the go-ahead from the governor," said Garvin.

Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order in April prohibiting nonessential lodging. With certain exceptions, the executive order impacts hotels, motels, short-term rentals and any other kind of rental for a period of 31 days or fewer.

With summer just around the corner, the governor's office told NBC Connecticut that no changes have been made to that order at this time.

Garvin said that he feels prepared to open for the season, but most of his guests stay for a week at a time. The property holds 40 cottages and he believes they are spaced out enough to allow for proper social distancing.

"I think we are a safe area," said Garvin.

The resort is expecting to host more than 700 families throughout the summer. Garvin said that very few have canceled their reservations, holding out hope that the executive order will be lifted in time for the summer season.

"Most people are just waiting. They can't wait to get out of their house and come to the beach," said Garvin.

Miles away from Hawk's Nest Beach, Sue Crawford is in a similar waiting game in Mystic.

"I have never seen anything like this in my life," said Crawford.

She owns and manages five rentals, Mystic Accommodations. Four of her properties are in the heart of tourist hot-spot Downtown Mystic and one is by the water in Noank.

Crawford said that before the pandemic, she never had a month with no visitors. May is usually when business really picks up, with the Coast Guard graduation, and she is busiest during the summer.

Normally at this time, Crawford is 60 percent booked through September. This season is different.

"Entirely," said Crawford. "Zero income. Zero business."

Crawford said that about 50 percent of her guests have canceled, citing fears over traveling and uncertainty. However some of her guests are still holding their reservations, waiting to see what happens.

Crawford is hoping that by mid-June the restrictions will be lifted. She has a plan for how to open safely.

"Most of our vacation homes are self-contained units so there is not a huge amount of interaction. Obviously the proper cleaning and maybe even spacing rents out between each guest so that there is a little time for things to settle if need be," said Crawford. "I am happy to answer anybody's questions regarding the cleanliness, the safety."

Crawford and Garvin said that they are hoping the governor will offer guidance soon on when they can start taking guests in, with the goal of trying to salvage the summer season.

"I am hoping. I am hoping it really does pick up to that extent," said Crawford. "Time will tell."

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