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COURT HOUSE -- Middle Township passed a resolution to ban all short-term rentals through at least mid-May as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to grip the state.  

According to a release, the resolution, passed at the April 6 township committee meeting, follows revisions to Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order allowing localities to tighten restrictions on seasonal rentals.  

Middle Township’s resolution applies to hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, Airbnb rentals, and any other residential rentals including apartments, condos, duplexes and single-family homes.  

The measure specifies exceptions such as government-supported emergency housing; pre-existing leases with less than 180 days remaining; rentals made to healthcare workers who are employed at local hospitals; or active Coast Guard or other military personnel stationed in Cape May County.  

The Township Committee plans to revisit the short-term rental ban at its May 18 work session.  

“Depending on the action on the ground, we may take action to rescind the ban but we reserve the right to extend it,” Mayor Tim Donohue said during Monday’s Township Committee meeting, which, for the first time, was broadcast virtually through Zoom and Facebook Live, according to a statement.

Cape May County plans to introduce its own resolution Tuesday to direct all transient, seasonal and short-term rentals to cease operations through May 22. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey has been the second hardest-hit area in the nation, only behind New York in the number of cases.   

While Middle Township is a shore community that typically welcomes visitors and tourists year-round, municipalities have had to take proactive steps to limit the spread of COVID-19. Preventive measures taken now can curb the spread of the virus and help the effort to restore tourism as quickly as possible.  

As Middle Township realtors began to receive above-average requests for April and May rentals -- pointing to a trend of people seeking an escape from higher-risk areas – Donohue and committee members joined the Middle Township Chamber of Commerce in asking for a voluntary halt in short-term rentals on March 29. 

Now, with the stakes higher than ever as coronavirus cases are expected to peak in the coming weeks, the Township took even more decisive action with the April 6 resolution.  

“Middle Township has previously called for a voluntary suspension of short-term rentals in the Township,” Donohue stated. “We appreciate the efforts of those who complied with that request. Tonight, under revised provisions of the Governor’s Executive Order, we have formalized a ban on short term rentals, at least through mid-May. We have made exceptions for certain essential rentals. We realize these restrictions will be a burden on many property owners, but we must all band together at this critical time in the pandemic to take whatever practical steps we can to halt all non-essential travel to our shore communities.”