Lincoln City’s short-term rentals strive to keep guests safe

Mitch Gould, of Lakeheart Art Deco Guesthouse, cleans a room at the Lincoln City bed and breakfast while following protocol under the current COVID-19 restrictions.

LINCOLN CITY — Earlier this summer, when the coronavirus pandemic showed no signs of ending, Oregon’s governor directed all of the state’s lodging facilities to lock down, along with other businesses. Now, the Oregon coast is in phase one of a COVID-era reopening of business. 

What are short-term rentals, such as bed-and-breakfast venues, doing to keep their guests safe? The answer comes from the social distancing and sanitizing policies that Lincoln City imposes upon hosts. These are based upon guidelines developed by experts at the Lincoln County Department of Public Health. In order to receive guests during this crisis, the city requires hosts to submit a lodging application on the city website, which reports how they are going to comply with the state’s directive on safe lodging: Order #5-20-36.

One establishment, Lakeheart Art Deco Guesthouse, operated by Mitch Gould and Rusty Keller, submitted a 20-point plan that meets all the state’s requirements.

“Job number one for us as responsible hosts is to keep our guests safe from infection and show them we are doing everything recommended to follow the best guidelines,” said Gould. 

The Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce offered Gould and Keller a free supply of high-quality N95 masks for their use during servicing guest quarters, courtesy of a program administered by the Lincoln County Department of Public Health. Lori Arce-Torres, Lincoln City Chamber executive director said, “Our business owners have been working very hard to follow the guidelines set forth by the Oregon Health Authority to keep our visitors safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether guests are staying in Lincoln City long term or just visiting for the day, we are focused on doing everything within our power to keep them safe and healthy and look forward to their return.”

The state originally asked tourist lodging facilities to establish a 24-hour delay between guests leaving and cleaning staff entering, but pushback from the hospitality industry resulted in a proposal for a three-hour delay, which was finally limited to a mere 15 minutes. Epidemiologists have not yet fully determined whether infectious moisture particles from breath tend to be heavy and quickly sink to the floor, or if instead, the virus is spread by finer particles, which are suspended in the air for longer. 

For Gould and Keller at Lakeheart Art Deco Guesthouse, they ask their guests to strip their own beds and leave windows open, since fresh air would help to disperse any virus in the air. They are adhering to the three-hour compromise delay before entering the apartment and will wear their masks while turning the rooms over. Airbnb’s comprehensive guidelines specify that cleaning should occur first, followed by disinfection. The hosts have also downloaded the Oregon Health Authority’s Cleaning Guidance for Hotels and Motels after possible COVID-19 occupancy, should those measures ever become necessary.

“We are very grateful for the expert guidance we’ve received from the state, county and city in keeping our home and guests safe, and we encourage everyone to enjoy the beauty of the Oregon coast responsibly,” said Gould. 

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