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Are Louisianians allowed to book and enjoy a Florida beach trip?

North Florida beaches among 1st to reopen since closures
Posted at 10:31 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 23:36:12-04

With many COVID-19 restrictions still in place, will this weekend look any different for those hoping to escape?

Florida beaches are of course a popular spot, not just this weekend, but in the coming weeks and months.

Tonight, many of you are asking can Louisianians book and enjoy a Florida beach vacation? KATC is Getting Answers.

"Half of the beach is Louisiana people," Tara Faulk said.

She's visiting Pensacola Beach from Erath. Faulk said people are social distancing and police are out patrolling.

"They're not questioning anyone. They're not asking where you're from. They're just watching for social distancing," Faulk said.

According to VisitFlorida.com, the Governor's executive order mandates anyone from Louisiana and three other states to self-quarantine for 14 days or the duration of their trip, whichever is shorter. There are also roadside checkpoints as you enter the Sunshine State.

Faulk said, "We're going to all get through this together, but the best cure is Vitamin D, right?"

Not everyone is able to make the trip.

"I'm a healthcare worker and we've been dealing with this inside the hospital, outside the hospital," Lauren Smith said. "My only sanctuary is home, but I wanted my sanctuary to be a beach in Florida for at least a week."

Lauren Smith had her upcoming trip to Grayton Beach, Florida booked for a year.

"We've been in contact with the rental company throughout the coronavrius and they reassured us that everything's going to be fine," Smith said.

Thursday, Grayton Coastal Rentals canceled Smith's nearly $4,000 reservation. In a copy of the rental contract obtained by KATC, the company said "GCR does not refund for guest cancellations." Smith said ultimately, the agency canceled her trip so she should be entitled to a refund.

"I have travel insurance, but that doesn't cover COVID-19, nothing does," Smith said. "So right now, I'm going back and forth with them to try and get a refund. I'm not getting anywhere and they're not answering my calls any longer."

We also reached out to Grayton Coastal Rentals, but they have not returned our multiple phone calls.

As part of phase one re-opening, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis asked every local county to put together a plan to deal with short-term rentals like condos and beach houses.

Rental agencies are asked not to allow guests from "hot spots" like Louisiana for the next 45 days. KATC reached out to the popular Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort and they're obeying the Governor's order.

In Fort Walton County, we talked with the Hampton Inn and a booking agent said guests from Louisiana are allowed and they do not have to self-quarantine.

Those caught violating the Governor's order could face fines and or jail time.

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