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Travel Planning During Coronavirus

Updated 4/21/2021 9:15 PM

With all the continued uncertainty caused by COVID-19, many of you are looking for some clarity regarding Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket vacation rentals again this year. Many visitors during the 2020 season were able to enjoy their vacations safely, and we are expecting another busy season this year. However, extra effort is still required by all to maintain your safety and the safety of the Cape & Islands community.

Whether you have already booked a home or are considering doing so, here is some information that might be helpful.

 

Booking a Vacation Rental

Q: What is the current status of short-term vacation rentals in Massachusetts?

A: All short-term rentals are permitted, and it is highly unlikely that there will be another ban as there was in 2020.

All rental owners are required to follow the Safety Standards and Checklist developed by the State of Massachusetts.

Q. What is considered a short-term rental?

Short-term is any vacation rental that is rented for 31 or fewer days.

Q: I am traveling from out-of-state. What do I need to do to comply with MA requirements?

A: All visitors entering Massachusetts are advised (not required) to quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival. But travelers in the following categories are exempt from this quarantine advisory:

  • Travelers who have received a negative COVID-19 result on a test administered not more than 72 hours prior to their arrival in Massachusetts. Travelers may also test out of the quarantine advisory after arrival in Massachusetts, as long as they quarantine until receiving a negative test result.
  • · Travelers who are fully vaccinated (i.e., who have received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines OR who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 14 days or more ago) and who do not have symptoms.

For full details and other exemptions, view the Mass.gov COVID-19 Travel Advisory

Q: What if my COVID-19 test has not been received prior to arrival?

A: If you are visiting from outside of the lower-risk states, and your test results are not available yet, then you must quarantine until you receive a negative test result.

Q: What if I'm renting a home that accommodates 14 people, but the travel advisory says only 10 are allowed?

A. The advisory indicates that "Indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people." By "gatherings," they mean a group of unrelated people attending a party or meeting. It is fine to stay with more than 10 family and friends in a rental home.

Q: What Phase of Reopening Massachusetts are we currently in?

A: As of Monday, March 22, we are in Step 1 of Phase IV.

View a full list of businesses eligible to operate at this time. The list includes beaches, restaurants, museums, movie theaters, indoor recreation (e.g., bowling, arcades, batting cages, etc.) golf facilities, and wildlife reserves among many others.

Also effective on March 22, gathering limits for event venues and in public settings have been increased to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private back yards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.

Businesses are expected to open at different rates and with some restrictions on hours or capacity, so check the businesses' website or call prior to visiting.

For more info, see Mass.gov Updates.

Q: What’s NOT included in the current phase of reopening Massachusetts?

A: The following will not be allowed to reopen until Step 2 of Phase 4:

  • Amusement parks, theme parks, indoor or outdoor water parks
  • Saunas, hot-tubs, steam rooms at health clubs, gyms, and other facilities
  • Beer gardens / breweries / wineries / distilleries
  • Bars, dance clubs, and nightclubs
  • Street Festivals, Parades and Agricultural Festivals
  • Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events
  • Ball pits
 

House Cleaning

Q: What advice are you providing homeowners regarding extra cleaning this year?

A: In accordance with the Massachusetts "Safety Standards and Checklist: Operators of Lodgings", we have provided all our owners with a Cleaning Checklist and Cleaning Log to be followed between each guests' stay.

We have also contacted a number of cleaning companies to learn about the extra measures they will be taking again this summer. Many of them are adding additional staff and will need a longer period of time to be sure that the home is safe for the next renters.

We are also urging homeowners to reach out to their guests to inform them about extra measures they will be taking this year to ensure their guests’ safety.

Q: What are your recommendations to minimize our risk of contagion in vacation rental homes?

A: Prior to your arrival, check with the owner/manager about extra cleaning procedures they have adopted for this year.

Owners and property managers have been advised to provide cleaning and disinfecting agents for your use during your stay.

Guests should bring their own face masks and other sanitizing products (e.g., hand sanitizer) to ensure recommended hygiene practices are followed during their stay.

Even if linens are provided, you may offer to bring your own.

 

Cancellation Policies

Q: Does WeNeedaVacation.com have a "cancellation policy"?

A: Cancellation policies are up to the individual homeowner or property manager. We do, however, provide owners information and advice about cancellation policies, urging them to be as flexible as possible due to the pandemic. It’s highly unlikely that there would be a ban on short-term rentals this season, and even travel restrictions are expected to be relaxed.

 

Q: Do you offer travel insurance?

Although WeNeedaVacation does not offer travel insurance directly, we strongly recommend that vacationers consider purchasing it. Even in “normal times,” travel insurance can be a good idea and is certainly more so in today’s ever-changing travel landscape. We suggest that you visit TravelInsurance.com to select a provider and a plan that best suit your needs.

Many travel insurance plans now cover a case of COVID-19 that has been confirmed by a physician prior to travel, and it is treated just like any other unexpected illness. Many policies also cover vacationers in the event that a doctor has diagnosed them with the virus while traveling, under the trip interruption benefit section of the policy.

On TravelInsurance.com, you will enter some basic information regarding trip cost, dates of stay, number of travelers, etc. You will instantly be shown custom quotes and policy details from several different providers. It’s important to compare the quotes and read over the fine print to make sure you are choosing the travel insurance policy that is right for you.

Once you have chosen your policy, you can purchase it directly from TravelInsurance.com. Your policy is active from the time you make your purchase. The sooner you do, the sooner your coverage begins.

WeNeedaVacation.com is not a licensed seller of insurance. For further details, we suggest you visit TravelInsurance.com directly. You can also reach them by phone at 877-906-3950.

Q: How is your company different from the other multi-national sites?

A: A fundamental difference between us and our competitors is that we do not process the bookings, hold deposits on behalf of the owner, or charge you a service fee. Rather than a booking platform, we are a marketing one. Thus, the entire legal and financial transactions are controlled by the homeowner or manager.

Having said that, however, we take a very active role in providing our homeowners/managers with as much guidance and support as possible to ensure a high quality of management and professionalism. This is for their sakes as well as for their guests’ experiences. In multiple communications, we have urged them to be as understanding and lenient as possible in terms of their cancellation policies during these uncertain times.

Q: Have there been any changes to the Steamship Authority’s reservation policies or schedules?

A: It's always best to check the SSA’s website for up-to-date information about their policies and schedules: SteamshipAuthority.com

 

Beaches & Restaurants

Q: Are the beaches open?

A: The beaches are open. Massachusetts has published beach safety and re-opening standards for all beach managers and visitors to follow. Many beaches will reduce the capacity of their parking lots. During the summer, most towns that offer visitor beach stickers for multiple days, a week or full season, will only sell stickers online or by mail. For specific beaches, it is recommended that you check the town's website for the most up-to-date information on parking and facilities.

Learn more about the Beach Guidelines.

Q: Are restaurants open?

A: We assume that most restaurants will be open again this season. Indoor dining will likely still have some restrictions, however, such as reduced capacity to ensure appropriate distance between tables.

 

Vacationing Responsibly & Safely

Q: What recommendations do you have for planning a trip to the Cape & Islands?

A: In order to make your trip safe, enjoyable and stress-free as possible, view our useful tips and advice on how to prepare, what to bring and vacation responsibly.

Learn more about Vacationing Safely and Responsibly.

Other Questions

Even with the vaccine, these continue to be unique and challenging times, and we ask for your patience and understanding, just as we have asked of our homeowners and managers. We truly believe that, by working together and having realistic expectations again this summer, the Cape & Islands will be a most welcome relief in these difficult times!

We invite you to contact the owner or manager of the home you have booked or are considering booking with any questions or concerns you may have