North Topsail Beach Mayor Joann McDermon said the town’s decision to restrict vacation rentals from March 28 to April 25 "was what’s best for our community and for our guests," during the COVID-19 crisis.
"The decision process was watching the virus spread, watching (the government) try to contain the virus and it was also based on conversations with all three island towns," she said.
North Topsail Beach announced Monday it would implement restrictions and elaborated on them Tuesday.
Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletters
The town announced rental restrictions will apply to people with a duration of less three months. No short-term vacation rentals in the town will be allowed during this time, although some exceptions will be permitted.
Exceptions included public services like military special orders or utility workers, according a news release from the town Tuesday.
Renters who have already checked in and are scheduled to have their stay extend past March 25 will be allowed to stay through the terms of their rental, but won’t be allow to extend their stay past that date.
"North Topsail Beach will allow vacation rentals to arrive back on April 25 unless any changes happen," McDermon said. "We as a board will be meeting on a weekly basis and we will stay in communication with the other islands."
McDermon said the town has received positive feedback about the decision. She said, however, that while safety is the utmost importance, town officials also want to make sure local business are surviving.
"This is the best time to restrict rentals. We want to do it now to see if we can have a good summer season," McDermon said. "But you do have to take into consideration the needs of businesses and small business owners here."
Lawhon Enterprises provides rental home cleaning and linen services among other services to the entire island, including North Topsail Beach. Owner Tracy Lawhon said citizens support the decision.
"I think it’s a great idea to go ahead and shut down for a while until things calm down," she said. "Keeping people safe is what we need to do."
Karen Critcher, a one-person real estate owner who serves North Topsail Beach, said while the decision to restrict rentals would hurt now, she and others understand it’s best for the community.
"Of course it hits everyone, but it’s only in the short term and this helps everyone in the long run," she said. "In this time, money is not important. Our families are important. We are just hunkering down the best we can."
"It’s just bad timing (for the coronavirus) because we still haven’t recovered from Florence. This definitely huts my business, but I support the decision," Lawhon said. "We won’t have the spring breakers or the Easter break, but we will be OK.
Critcher added towns folks are working together to make sure people are taken care of during this difficult times.
"Everyone is helping everyone," she said. "People are volunteering to pick up things for other people. We are coming together like Americans do."
Chris Miller can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 910-219-8472. Follow him on twitter @jdnsports.