WESTPORT — Motels, RV parks and campgrounds in Westport can now open for business, provided they follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.
An executive order issued by Westport Mayor Rob Bearden Friday allows for the immediate reopening of vacation rental homes, hotels, motels, condominiums, RV parks, campgrounds, private property used as campgrounds and any other transient rental businesses.
The Westport City Council had voted to do so at its meeting Thursday. The city had passed an ordinance April 13 directing such facilities to close to help reduce exposure to the coronavirus; Friday’s action rescinds that ordinance.
Lodging facilities must provide a declaration to the City of Westport Clerk-Treasurer or designee that they have in place CDC and state safety guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Bearden’s executive order.
Letter of support for charter industry
Wednesday, Bearden sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee in support of the charter boat industry, a seasonal but vital part of the Westport economy. It read:
“The charter boat industry in Westport is made up of over 30 small businesses, and they are an important part of our economy and provide a valuable service to Washingtonians by offering a means for the public to enjoy the extraordinary fishing opportunities on our coast. The boats are operated by licensed captains who have a long and impressive safety record as a result of their dedication to public safety.
“Under your Phase One guidelines, charter boats are limited to two passengers. That has the effect of shutting down their operations. Under Phase Two (which went into effect Friday, after Bearden’s letter to the governor), up to eight passengers can be taken, but the restrictions requiring that only two households can be represented on the vessel is difficult to manage and impossible for them to enforce.
“The charter boat industry has been proactive in developing and submitting to your office for review a COVID-19 safety plan for their respective operations. The plan has been adopted by the Puget Sound, Ilwaco, and Westport Charterboat associations, as well as a number of independent operators. The plan is designed to ensure that charters have taken every reasonable precaution to protect their customers and employees from inadvertently spreading the virus.
“The plan includes such features as limiting the number of passengers allowed on their boats, thereby providing for a minimum of nine feet of rail space separation during Phase Two along with the use of personal protective equipment including masks and gloves, regularly sanitizing the railings, fishing rods, and other surfaces, and having hand sanitizer readily available for customers and crew.
“I am urging you to approve charter boat operations consistent the with plan that they have provided to your office. It is well thought out and consistent with your leadership in taking a precautionary approach to reopening Washington’s businesses. In addition to the fresh fish that ends up on people’s tables, it helps the families that make up our community while being precautionary in dealing with the safety and well-being of the public that utilize their services.
“Please be aware just how critical the summer months are to the annual income of Westport businesses. Time is of the essence to the economic survival of these small businesses. Thank you for your consideration.”