Managing your vacation rental during the COVID-19 crisis

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As you well know, the corona virus has significantly impacted the travel and tourism industry. Our WeNeedaVacation team is doing everything we can to provide you, our homeowners, with as much information and guidance as possible, while still allowing YOU to make your own decisions.

New questions arise each day as the situation evolves. Our goal is to provide resources and options for you to consider as you adapt to these new circumstances.

Below are links directing you to specific topics of interest, as well as helpful online resources. We update this page regularly with pertinent news items.

Latest News

July 28, 2021 – Wellfleet voted yesterday to join Provincetown in re-instituting a face mask protocol:

  • Masks are required in all public buildings where social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • All visitors entering public buildings are required to wear a mask.
  • It is recommend that businesses require masking indoors, including customers and employees.

May 17, 2021 – Gov. Charlie Baker and his office announced today that all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted effective May 29.

All industry specific restrictions will be lifted, and capacity will increase to 100% for all industries. The gathering limit will be rescinded. All industries will be encouraged to follow CDC guidance for cleaning and hygiene protocols.

Gov. Baker will also end the State of Emergency on June 15.

The Commonwealth currently leads the nation in vaccinating residents, with 75% of adults having received at least one dose.

April 27, 2021 – Gov. Baker announced the latest updates to the MA COVID-19 Restrictions, starting with April 30, when face mask requirements are relaxed considerably. The plan is to reopen some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries effective May 10th and then allow for further reopening on May 29th and August 1st. View details in the full Announcement.

April 21, 2021 – As of Monday, March 22, the MA Travel Order has been replaced with a Travel Advisory. The MA Travel Form and lower-risk states map are no longer in effect. Read the full MA Travel Advisory.

April 6, 2021 – The US CDC has updated its guidance for cleaning and disinfecting facilities and homes to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the science has shown that people can get infected via contaminated surfaces, but the risk is low. Regular cleaning of these surfaces with soap or detergent works, and disinfection is not necessary.  Indoor disinfecting is only necessary if there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID within 24 hours. In most cases, fogging, fumigation and electrostatic spraying is not recommended as a primary method of disinfection, and actually carries several safety risks.

March 11, 2021 – The Massachusetts travel order has been updated to include those who have been vaccinated for COVID-19.  They now do not need to obtain a negative test prior to traveling to Mass., nor do they need to quarantine after their arrival. For full details, go to the Mass Travel Form section about Designated Exceptions to the Travel Order.

February 27, 2021 – Mass. advances to Step 2 of Phase III on March 1, and Phase IV is planned to start March 22. For the full COVID-19 Update from the Baker-Polito Administration, read more.

September 22, 2020  – Gov. Baker recently announced that the deadline for making lodging tax payments for the 2020 season has again been postponed, this time until May 20, 2021. Read more.

August 28, 2020 – Massachusetts has added four states — Colorado, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — to its list of low-risk states that do not require travelers to fill out a form, undergo testing or quarantine.

August 4, 2020 – Effective Friday, August 7, Rhode Island is no longer listed as a lower-risk state. Thus, any guests from Rhode Island due in your home starting Friday, August 7, are subject to the restrictions in the recent Travel Order, and homeowners must notify their guests of the Order.

July 24, 2020  – Hoping to keep the coronavirus pandemic from flaring up again in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker on Friday announced strict new travel rules that all people entering the state must comply with. The new travel order goes into effect Aug. 1 and applies to all travelers entering the state, including both out-of-state residents and Massachusetts residents returning home, the governor’s office said.

Under the order, everyone coming to the state must fill out a “Massachusetts Travel Form” and quarantine for 14 days unless they are coming from a state where the coronavirus risk is lower, or they can produce a negative coronavirus test result administered no more than 72 hours prior to arriving in Massachusetts, the governor’s office said.

Individuals who do not comply with their obligation to quarantine are subject to a $500 fine per day.

You do not need to quarantine for 14 days if you took a test for COVID-19 and have received a negative result. The specimen for the test must have been collected no longer than 72 hours before your arrival in Massachusetts, and the testing must be by a method approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Upon request, you must be able to demonstrate proof of the negative test result.

Travelers are exempt from this requirement if they are coming from a state that has been designated as a lower-risk state or fall into another narrow exemption category. Based on current public health data, those lower risk states will include: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Hawaii, the governor’s office said.

Read our Travel Order FAQs .

June 30, 2020 – Gov. Baker today announced that, beginning July 1, 2020, travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey arriving in Massachusetts are exempt from the directive to self-quarantine for 14 days.  All other travelers arriving to Massachusetts, however – including Massachusetts residents returning home – are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days.

June 20, 2020 – The Mass. Department of Revenue has announced that the deadline for remitting room occupancy for the period beginning February 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020, has been extended to September 20, 2020.  Read more.

June 6, 2020 – As expected, Gov. Baker today announced that Phase 2 of the Mass. Re-opening Plan will start on Monday, June 8. View the full Mass.gov UpdatePart of Step 1 of Phase 2 is the re-opening of lodging, including short-term rentals. View our post about some of the mandatory and recommended guidelines for short-term rentals set forth by the state.


Cleaning and Turnovers


Sample Lease

COVID-19 Information

  • CDC Information on Coronavirus: Read more
  • MA Information on the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019: Read more
  • Stop the Spread of Germs (CDC): View PDF
  • More Printables from CDC: View more

Vacationer Information

About the author

Joan Talmadge

Joan Talmadge - My husband Jeff and I created WeNeedaVacation.com in 1997, shortly after buying our Cape home. My background includes teaching fifth grade for 8 years and writing and editing educational publications for 15. I get great joy from helping fellow homeowners successfully rent their homes. Jeff and I are proud to have two of our three grown children working for WeNeedaVacation.com, truly a family-run business. For me, the Cape and Islands are magical all times of the year -- whether it's walking on Nauset Beach, playing golf, or enjoying family and friends. Email Joan


  • Thanks Debbie, it’s a helpful post and comments too. They never say specifically what the danger is in people vacationing in your region. The latest expert medical opinion is that the virus is passed in aerosol form through talking mostly. Few people and cough and sneeze. Looks like social distancing (10 feet) is the key prevention advice. That could be achieved, but perhaps the phase openings are all about easing people back into closer contact especially in the towns. Getting to Nantucket without exposure is a tough one. That’s the risk, not the rental unit itself

  • Hello, in the Zoom meeting last week it was mentioned that we can find phrasing to instruct a guest who suspects they’ve contracted COVID-19 that they must leave – and cannot convalesce in my house. I cannot find this topic in the blogs – can you help? Thank you!

    • Hi, Kristen, the only language we can find that address this issue (if one of your guests should contract COVID while in your home) is this on the Mass.gov site, “In the event that a guest presents a presumptive case of COVID-19 or a positive case, the room used by that guest may only be returned to service after undergoing an enhanced sanitization protocol, in accordance with CDC guidelines.” Obviously, this guidance is geared more to rooms in hotels/motels/inns. Guests should not expect to be able to stay beyond their check-out day. If they get sick (COVID or any illness), they should either go home or, if they’re too ill to do that, they should go to the hospital.

  • So based on today’s announcement from Gov Baker it sounds like Phase 1 will be in place for at least 3 weeks and then re-evaluated before deciding whether we move on to Phase 2 and a restricted opening of lodging and short-term rentals – Joan and Jeff, is that your understand too, and do you have any further insight regarding timing and what those restrictions are likely to look like for Ptown? I’ll be listening in on Wed, thanks for your help!

    • Yes, Jacalyn, that’s right. We’re hoping to get more information specifically about Cape and Islands short-term rentals before the end of this first phase (June 8th), but no mention was made of a date. We’ll keep you posted just as soon as we hear anything else.

  • Hi Joan are you interpreting the Cape Cod article and the Governor’s orders to mean that the 14d quarantine and “bring everything with you” instructions to be carried forward during the summer (ie beyond May 18?) if so that means out of state renters will be house bound. Not an appealing summer vacation option!
    Thank you Karin

    • Hi, Karin, NO, the shelter-in-place ban and quarantine for out-of-state visitors is ONLY through May 18 at this point. It may be extended, but currently it’s only until then. And yes, there are a lot of unappealing realities for this season, but the key for us is to remain flexible and be prepared for whatever happens.

  • Thank you very much for this important information. As always, reliable and on point. I have a question about the governor’s barring vacation rentals. Is this through May 4? And if it is, under the order is booking summer rentals (July and August) before May 4 permitted?

    • Hi Donna,
      You can certainly contract with renters for occupancy in July or August. The ban at this point is for short-term rentals taking place now and up until May 4, although that date might be extended.

  • Hi Joan,
    Love the cleaning recommendations! My cleaning company sent me a letter stating all the ways they will be upping their cleaning process, I’m forwarding, and keeping it posted in the house, to all my clients. I had not taken into consideration bedding, pillows and comforters specifically. I don’t supply sheets and towels, but do supply comforters and pillows. It’s impossible to have my cleaning people wash all the bedding on turn over days, so I guess I could have my clients bring their own, which seems to be a lot to ask to bring. I have 8 beds!!!
    I’ve had one family that is fully paid for a week in August 2020, they have some health issues with a few people in their party, and wanted to defer to August 2021, which I did. My rentals start late June, and I only rent my house for 9 weeks in the summer. I’m hoping all this virus impact will be lifted somewhat by then. I believe you’re right about people wanting to get away, and a private secluded home is a safe bet!
    If you want to make God laugh, tell him you have plans!!
    Jan Homans

    • You’re right, Jan. It’s pretty challenging to make any plans at this point. But let’s hope that things improve early enough so that we can salvage this rental season. We’re hearing from a lot of vacationers that they are as committed as ever to get their annual fixes! And probably even more so after this worrisome time.

  • How to address this situation

    Thinking about this pandemic and effect. For all of us it’s cleaning for the safety of our guests.
    I’ve talked to my housekeeping and thing we’ve discussed.

    Here are some thoughts to share:
    • All hard surfaces must be disinfected- wood tables, chairs book cases, hardwood floors, etc.
    • Soft surfaces Beds, couches, upholstered furniture, carpet somehow disinfected
    • Kitchen cabinets inside and out.
    • Removing plates and dishes- go to paper products
    • Pots and pans- limited and all disinfected every turn over
    • Towel’s and bed linens – bring your own
    • No bed spreads or comforters

    Check you rental insurance

    Just some thoughts to share.

    Please chime in.

  • Hi Joan, I’ve never reviewed a blog in the past. Is this something that will come to me automatically via FB, email or the WNAV site. Thank you. Debbie Bastien