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COURT HOUSE -- The Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted April 7 that all hotels, motels, guest houses and other transient, seasonal and short-term rental businesses are prohibited from lodging any new transient guest or seasonal tenant, effective immediately. 

According to a release, the board decided that it would continue to monitor the situation to reopen these businesses as soon as it is safe to do so.

The term “transient guest or seasonal tenant” as described by Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order does not include: “(i) individuals housed as a part of State-directed non-congregate shelter initiative, (ii) individuals taking temporary residence supported by Federal, State, or local emergency and/or other housing assistance, or (iii) healthcare workers taking temporary residence.” 

This resolution also does not require the eviction of any transient guest or seasonal tenant presently lodged in such a location prior to the resolution being passed.

The goal is to create one uniform policy for the entire County so there isn’t confusion among visitors regarding which towns are open and which ones are closed in the immediacy of the current Health Emergency in the State of New Jersey. 

The County wants to make it clear that the Resolution does not stop businesses from taking reservations or preparing the property for reopening, but speaks to the fluid nature of the situation, where no definite date is known.

“This is a necessary step and we are glad the Governor recognized our position, which I was the first to voice weeks ago,” stated Freeholder Director Gerald M. Thornton. “We don’t need visitors at this time. We must do everything we can to flatten the curve. The more we discourage people from traveling at this time it will help eliminate the spread of COVID-19. When we can ensure it is safe, I will be the first one to welcome tourists will open arms.”

Thornton and Cape May County Administrator Elizabeth Bozzelli have been in daily contact with Gov. Phil Murphy’s office for the past month. Those discussions have allowed them to express the concerns of the elected officials and the community. 

Freeholder Jeffrey Pierson who is the liaison to the Cape May County Health Department has been in daily contact with Thornton and Bozzelli as well, along with the Health Department Officer Kevin Thomas and Cape May County Office of Emergency Management Director Marty Pagliughi. 

“This is not a decision we want to make but one we have to make,” stated Pierson. “We are doing everything we can do to limit sickness and loss of life now and hopefully preserve some of the summer economic activity going forward. But the time to act is now.”