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Buncombe removes hotel, lodge limits, effective ... at once
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 22:34

From Staff Reports

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners — during a June 24 special meeting — voted unanimously to remove a local occupancy cap that limits Buncombe hotels and other short-term lodging facilities to 50 percent capacity.

The action was taken in the county’s effort to re-align with the state in its coronavirus response.

The occupancy cap removal became effective immediately. 

Republican Commissioner Joe Belcher — saying he wanted to give local lodging facilities a few extra days rather than to wait until Buncombe’s current order expired June 26 —  urged that the action should be taken at once 

The vote also ended a requirement that lodging facilities wait 24 hours after a room becomes vacant before beginning cleaning and disinfecting it.

“The additional restrictions on short-term lodging was one of the few ways the local efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 still differed from those of the state,” the Asheville Citizen Times reported later June 24.

“In the past, Board of Commissioners Chairman Brownie Newman voiced concerns about travelers bringing COVID-19 to Buncombe from regions that have been hit harder by the pandemic,” the ACT noted. “He cited the need for a ‘careful and gradual approach’ to inviting more tourists to the area.”

In addition, emergency preparedness director Fletcher Tove told the board at the meeting that his staff supported lifting the additional restrictions at once.

“We think ... people’s natural concern with the pandemic is going to regulate their capacity,” he said, according to the ACT. “We’re not necessarily seeing the full effect of what we want from those restrictions knowing that, from the ... cell phone data and other data from Explore Asheville, that people are just coming to neighboring counties and coming in for the day.”

The Buncombe commissioners’ action followed Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement earlier June 24 that he is extending Phase 2 with no lifting of coronavirus restrictions for another three weeks and is requiring face coverings in most public spaces — a restriction that already is mandated in the county.



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