Owners of short term rental properties in Wilkes County are now prohibited from renting to out-of-county and out-of-state guests anywhere in Wilkes except Ronda.

This prohibition was made in an amendment to a declaration of a state of emergency for Wilkes signed Friday by Eddie Settle, chairman of the Wilkes County commissioners.

The amendment “prohibits all owners of short term rental properties in Wilkes County from renting to out-of-county and out-of-state guests, including campgrounds, air bed and breakfasts, VRBO units, guest houses, hotels, motels, inns, timeshares units, condos, vacation cabins, home rentals, RV parks and other similar rentals.”

The amendment said this prohibition took effect at 3 p.m. Friday and remains in effect through midnight April 30, unless sooner modified or terminated.

Wilkesboro Mayor Mike Inscore and North Wilkesboro Mayor Robert Johnson on March 25 signed an amendment to the same declaration of emergency prohibiting owners of short term rental property in their respective towns from renting to out-of-county and out-of-state guests, with certain exceptions.

“The only exceptions are for guests currently occupying hotel rooms, as well as out-of-town/out-of-state guests known to hotel staff who regularly stay at that particular hotel during return trips to Wilkesboro and/or North Wilkesboro," stated the amendment signed by Inscore and Johnson.

A press release from North Wilkesboro Mayor Wilson Hooper said the actions by Johnson and Inscore with short-term lodging were taken to “limit opportunities for transmission of the virus in public spaces where spread could occur, and to prevent additional cases being introduced from outside the region.” Local officials have voiced concern about people from other places with many more cases of COVID-19 coming to Wilkes to escape the virus.

State of emergency authority of the chairman of the Wilkes County commissioners only exists in portions of Wilkes outside the municipalities.

The original state of emergency order was signed on March 13 by North Johnson, Inscore, Settle and Ronda Mayor Victor Varela. This order prohibited gatherings of 100 or more people, but exempted those held for church or other religious purposes.

The first amended version of the state of emergency order, signed by Johnson, Inscore, Varela and Settle on March 19, prohibited mass gatherings of 50 or more and no longer exempted church and other religious gatherings.

The second amended version of the state of emergency order, signed by the three mayors but not Settle, prohibited mass gatherings of 10 or more people in the three towns. It also closed recreational amenities like playground equipment, picnic shelters and outdoor athletic courts, both publicly- or privately-owned in the towns.

The amendments approved by Inscore and Johnson on March 25 also stated only one individual per family should enter a retail store to shop and a child should not accompany a parent into a retail store if there is a person of suitable age available to supervise the child elsewhere.

They also said social distancing must be maintained at all times inside a retail store or parking lot; shoppers must follow signs and directions posted by stores to enable social distancing; and shoppers must wait for preceding customers to check out before placing their items on the check-out counter or conveyor.

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