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Watauga County Takes Additional Steps to Protect the Public with Limitations to Short-Term Rentals

Watauga County in conjunction with the Towns of Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone and Seven Devils, will be ending short-term rentals, effective Thursday, March 26th at 12:00pm. This is a preventive measure to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and lessen its impact on our community. The County is taking precautions to ensure the health and safety of its residents during this rapidly changing situation. 

“We appreciate the solidarity between our municipalities and Watauga County to continue working together as we respond to this public health emergency. We carefully made this decision with public health in mind. We urge the public to please help us lessen the impact of COVID-19 here by staying home and practicing social distancing to the greatest extent possible,” said John Welch, Watauga County Commissioner.  The County’s State of Emergency will be updated to reflect this change.

Effective Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 12:00 PM, all short-term rentals for property within Watauga County shall be prohibited for the duration of the County’s State of Emergency unless otherwise deemed allowable, at which time an amendment will be issued.  Short-term rentals shall include, but not be limited to: air bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, timeshare units, condos, motels, resorts, inns, guest houses, RV Parks, vacation cabins, home rentals, VRBO, hotels, or other rental programs or places where leases for less than thirty (30) days in duration.

The following are exceptions to the short-term rental policy set forth above:

  • Persons currently subject to a written rental agreement shall be able to remain for the rental period and shall be able to extend said period with no time limitation provided it is continuous.
  • The prohibition against short-term rentals shall not apply when work related accommodations are needed for the following:
  • Emergency Personnel including, but not limited to  Law enforcement, EMTs, Fire and Rescue, 911 Communications and Emergency Management.
  • Federal, State and Local Government personnel.
  • Medical and Public Health personnel.
  • Any person, contractor, or service provider deemed necessary by the County Manager to the response and recovery for COVID-19.
  • Construction workers.
  • Homeless shelters.
  • Emergency facilities, as determined by the County Manager.
  • Any housing arrangements within facilities owned and operated by Appalachian State University.

These new guidelines will be incorporated as part of the existing Watauga County State of Emergency that is currently in effect through the course of this public health emergency and go into effect Thursday, March 26th at 12:00 PM.

People who are at high risk for COVID-19 should stay home to the greatest extent possible to decrease the chance of infection. “Please, help us protect the most vulnerable. We need you to stay home as much as possible and limit your trips to essential needs like the grocery store, pharmacy, or to pick up your necessities through a local business or to participate in the Watauga County Schools meal program,” said Jennifer Greene, Health Director.


Who is at High Risk for COVID-19?

People at high risk include anyone who:

  • Is 65 years of age or older
  • Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Have a high-risk condition that includes:
  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Heart disease with complications
  • Compromised immune system
  • Severe obesity – body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
  • Other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach us, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. For more information, visit www.AppHealthCare.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.


For more information on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), please visit the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website at cdc.gov/coronavirus. North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.


A COVID-19 toll free helpline has been set up to answer general, non-emergent questions at 1-866-462-3821. To submit questions online, go to www.ncpoisoncontrol.org and select “chat.”