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Watauga County Short-Term Rental and 14-Day Quarantine Prohibition will Continue Through Phase 1 of Gov. Cooper’s Reopening Plan

By Nathan Ham

The Watauga County Commissioners held a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss the direction the county would be taking as Phase 1 of Governor Roy Cooper’s reopening of the state begins this weekend.

The two notable restrictions that remain in place at the county level include the continued prohibition of hotel and short-term rentals and the 14-day self-quarantine period for residents and non-residents arriving in the county for overnight stays. This includes second homeowners and anyone who may have traveled elsewhere and are returning back to Watauga County. Otherwise, the county will follow Gov. Cooper’s plan.

“While Watauga County is definitely different from Ashe County, from Alleghany County, from Wilkes County, each one of us is going to come up with the best plan that we think will fit our county with the understanding of trying to have as much consistency that we can have with our plans knowing that if one county is doing something, it would be beneficial to try to have a consistent message for the High Country area, but we understand and are realistic to the fact that some of the counties may do a little different approach because they may not have as many short-term rentals as Watauga County does. We’re different in a lot of ways but we’re trying to come up with a similar plan for each of us to have,” said Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque.

The commissioners unanimously voted to support extending the 14-day self-quarantine and short-term rental restrictions through June 5, which is two weeks after the tentative beginning of Phase 2. 

Phase 2 of the reopening could begin as early As May 22 to May 29 and during that time, Watauga County will partially lift the short-term rental ban to allow for a 50 percent occupancy capacity at area hotels as well as lift the county’s 14-day self-quarantine period. The county would also follow the other recommendations from Gov. Cooper, which would include reopening restaurants and bars for indoor dining, indoor church services, gyms, and salons.

If all goes well with the first two phases, Phase 3 of the reopening plan for North Carolina could begin as early as June 26 to July 10 where all short-term rental restrictions would be lifted by the county and all other statewide restrictions.

Both Ashe County and Avery County have decided to go ahead and let their 14-day quarantine for visitors and second homeowners and short-term rental prohibitions expire once Phase 1 of the state reopening begins this weekend.