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No Vacancies... Unless Essential: Mass. Hotels Closed to Vacationers

Liz Lerner

Hotels, motels, inns, and short term rentals can only host displaced Massachusetts residents and essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, according to state orders announced Tuesday. 

That order includes healthcare workers, first responders, and those who are trying to self-quarantine, and exlcudes those seeking vacation or leisure.  

The Cape Codder Resort and Spa in Hyannis is among the businesses staying open and accepting those who qualify as essential or displaced at the discounted rate of $69 per night.

The resort would typically charge more than twice that and the payment is being worked out between emergency workers and their employers, said general manager Jon Bercume.  


“In the absence of being here for the leisure market we’re now here to help in any way that we can and… provide a salary for at least some of our employees,” he said.  


It was a “difficult decision,” he said, to stay open given the cost of overhead.  

But Amanda Catania, a sales manager at the resort, said they’re proud to fill an important need.

“Some family members live at home with elderly parents or someone who has a compromised immune system and don't want to be putting them in danger by going home,” she said. “So we want to offer—since we have essentially a much more empty hotel  than usual—offer what we have.”

The resort has plexieglass shields up to protect staff and customers, and is even experimenting with contact-less check-ins. 

But not all hoteliers or innkeepers have been able to keep up with the state's new order.  


Melody Edson, owner of the Inn at the Oaks in Eastham, said she and her co-owner husband have already lost $50,000 in revenue from cancellations, but they couldn’t risk inviting in frontline workers who are potentially carrying the virus. 

“We’re both over 60, so we’re in the high-risk group and we’re both cancer survivors," she said. "So we think it’s not in the better interest of our health." 

Like many others, Edson said, she believes their regulars who know and love the inn will be back when it’s safe, hopefully before June 1 when the summer busy season picks up.

The state’s orders are to expected to last until at least May 4th.  

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.