The Ontario government announced that beginning Friday, short-term rentals will be allowed to operate once again during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The province said that rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums will be allowed to resume operations starting Friday at 12:01 a.m.
The announcement was made by Minister Vic Fedeli via Twitter Thursday morning.
Tourism Minister Lisa MacLeod told a legislative committee that the pandemic has damaged the province’s tourism industry and she doesn’t expect 2019 visitor levels to return until 2024.
“None of us should be naive to the fact that there will be lasting damage, that many customers are rethinking their old habits,” she said.
The province will need to help the sector, but so will all Ontarians, she said.
“We will focus rebuilding with staycations and domestic travel encouraging Ontarians, and other Canadians, to visit our destinations,” she said.
Short-term rentals, defined as 28 days or less, under the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act were only allowed to be offered and/or rented to those in need of emergency housing. The order was issued April 4.
A spokesperson for short-term rental company Airbnb issued a statement thanking the Ford government for its “leadership” and “thoughtful approach to protecting public health while laying a foundation upon which economic recovery can be successful.”
The company said it would continue to support front-line workers, who it had provided housing for throughout the pandemic.
“We want to ensure a safe and responsible return of travel in Ontario and everywhere we operate. That’s why over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we began preparing for the future of travel, focused on health and prevention,” a statement read.
“Recently we announced our Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, which includes enhanced procedures and guidance for hosts, and is expected to become the leading standard for the entire home-sharing community.”
—With files from The Canadian Press