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'Corona Discount': Gov. Wolf To Ban Airbnb After Poconos Became Per-Capita COVID Leader

Some Pennsylvania short-term rental owners are advertising their spaces as respite from coronavirus. Officials in the Poconos want to shut down the market.

After a surge of coronavirus cases in the Poconos that some attributed to out-of-state travelers, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration says it is moving to remove short-term rentals such as Airbnb from the state’s list of “life-sustaining” businesses during the shutdown. 

Monroe County, which has been under a ‘stay-at-home’ order since March 23, has become a coronavirus hot spot in Pennsylvania. As of Wednesday morning, it had 236 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the most per capita in Pennsylvania, leading neighboring Pike County and each of the five counties in the Philadelphia area. 

“The governor agrees that short-term rental properties should not be in operation and the administration is working on guidance to address this,” said Wolf spokesperson Lyndsay Kensinger in an email. 

Kensinger could not say if the ban was immediate, if there are limitations on who it would affect, or provide any other details on the policy change. 

In recent decades, Monroe County has seen a population boom, with many new residents who commute to New York City for work.

As New York and New Jersey became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.,  the Wolf administration was pressured by local politicians who were not happy with attempts by rental owners to drum up escape-from-New York coronavirus tourism. 

“We are seeing an influx of New York license plates,” said State Rep. Maureen Madden (D-Monroe).“They’re actually coming here, they’re spreading more germs, they’re taking more germs back.” 

State Senator Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) authored a Facebook post Monday morning asking people to send him short-term rental advertisements so he can forward them to the state police. 

Late Tuesday, after getting word of the change, Scavello took to Facebook again: “THANK YOU GOVERNOR WOLF.” 

Read more from our partners, Keystone Crossroads.