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Fort Myers Beach Town Council bans new reservations at lodging businesses

By Staff | Mar 30, 2020

The Town of Fort Myers Beach on Monday banned all new reservations at lodging establishments for 90 days.

During an emergency meeting filled with technical glitches and no copies of the resolutions being discussed posted to the town’s website, Town Council held its emergency meeting on a computer app called Zoom.

The closure order includes single-family homes, multi-family homes and any public accommodations, inns, hotels.

With no copy of the resolution immediately available at the town’s website, the restrictions on lodging were explained as: “now therefore it is ordered all parties engaged in the rental of public lodging establishments,” including transient or non-transient lodging and any time shares, shall cancel all existing reservations or making new reservations.

Any guests who have checked in may remain.

Mayor Anita Cereceda said the latest actions by the town council are in light of the actions taken by Gov. Ron DeSantis to suspend new vacation rentals and the actions by the city of Sanibel to ban commercial lodging as the state works to contain the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

With the Lee County Board of Commissioners having rejected a plea from Fort Myers Beach Mayor Anita Cereceda to shut down all non-essential businesses and issue a countywide shelter-in-place order, the Beach Council also approved a declaration that recommends residents to limit travel to essential needs. The original resolution described it as an order but that language was removed at the request of Councilmember Rexann Hosafros.

Cereceda described that resolution as an “aspiration.”

The stay-at-home declaration recommends residents limit travel to essential needs. The original wording described a stay-at-home declaration as an order but that language was removed at the urging of Councilmember Rexann Hosafros. The Discussion of terms are vague as to whether council is urging people to stay home.

“This is aspirational in nature,” Town Attorney John Herin Jr. said. “The council may have to take more extreme action,” he said.

Herin said the council is just urging people to shelter in place.

Councilmember Rexann Hosafros warned against language being too restrictive. Hosafros also called for opening up the beach for two hours in the early morning but that received no support.

No copies of the declarations were available on the town’s website at the time of the meeting though Attorney John Herin Jr. said he emailed copies of the proposed resolutions to the council members in the morning.