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Cape May County wants to discourage non-essential visitation to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders is supporting a unanimous position from the 16 municipalities in Cape May County agreed upon on Monday, March 30.

The position taken by the mayors is strongly discouraging short-term rentals of properties in the County for the duration of Governor Phil Murphy’s executive orders, and strongly discourages non-essential visitation to their communities by visitors and property owners during the length of the pandemic.

This policy was agreed upon during a conference call involving elected and appointed officials earlier Monday.

“County leadership applauds our municipal leaders for taking a proactive approach as we all work together to slow the spread of Covid-19,” said Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton. “We are very supportive of this practical and reasonable approach to coping with pandemic and urge everyone to follow the directives coming from the Office of the Governor and health officials.”

The unanimous position from the 16 County municipalities that includes the two specific requests reads as follows:

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the safety and welfare of citizens of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and Connecticut. As an effort to protect our citizens, first responders, and others who are working collectively to provide essential services to us, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has issued a series of executive orders that have the force and effect of law. These orders, in part, identify essential service and place travel restrictions in New Jersey.

As a result of this pandemic and in an abundance of caution and concern for everyone’s safety and well-being, the mayors of the 16 municipalities in Cape May County – from Ocean City to Cape May Point – are unified with two specific requests.

First, we are strongly urging the elimination of all short-term rentals for the duration of the Governor’s executive orders, which continue indefinitely until rescinded. This appeal is made to all realtors, online rental platforms, and individuals. Hotels and motels are considered to be essential services and we ask that they rent only to individuals who are performing essential functions per the Governor’s executive orders, not to traditional tourists.

Our second ask is for you to remain at your primary residence and adhere to social distancing practices. Coastal mayors have been forced to make difficult and unpopular decisions including closing playgrounds and outdoor recreational facilities; some towns have been forced to close beaches and boardwalks, and others may follow suit, simply because social distancing guidance has been ignored.

We recognize that individuals love to visit the coastal region, and want to visit their second homes for a change of scenery. That travel is contrary to the executive orders enacted by the Governor, and contrary to the guidance from health officials to stay at home as much as possible. Elected officials from every community may be forced to enact further restrictions if this appeal is not followed.

We understand these are unconventional requests by elected officials who every day appreciate the visitation and investment in our communities. However, we stand together in support of this position to protect you and your families so we can all enjoy good health when this crisis has passed.

Thank you from the mayors and elected officials from Cape May, Cape May Point, West Cape May, Lower Township, Wildwood Crest, Wildwood, North Wildwood, West Wildwood, Middle Township, Stone Harbor, Avalon, Sea Isle City, Dennis Township, Woodbine, Upper Township, and Ocean City.