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COVID-19 IMPACT: City officials encourage hotels to adjust renting polices

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- The COVID-19 pandemic continues to force folks to figure out new ways of doing normal day to day things.

For some that means making the difficult decisions to stay away from home to ensure the safety of their families. In Rochester, some hotels have polices in place that may make it more difficult.

The City of Rochester sent out an email on April 6th to hotels that have a policy in place of not renting to locals, encouraging them to fix that policy.

Aspen Suites General Manager Laurel Schacht.

"Rochester residents are not allowed to stay at the hotel without prior management approval," Laurel Schacht, Aspen Suites General Manager said.

That policy has been in place at the hotel for years and there is a reason for that.

"Five years ago there was an influx of reservations with local addresses or nearby towns and we were finding them associated with drug deals," Schacht said. "It's a process that we have in place and like I said it works very very well."

Schacht said the management will rent to locals, but not without a prior approval. If someone comes to the hotel without that approval, they will not be turned away, and a decision will be made on site.

Council member Micheal Wojcik.

Rochester City Council Member Micheal Wojcik said he understands the policy, but says enforcing it right now might not be a good idea. He heard from a mother who pre-booked a room for her son, but was denied entry for being local.

"A single mother of a child who was coming back from a COVID hot spot, she is very susceptible to the disease and if she gets the disease it can very well kill her," Wojcik added since then the woman was able to find a safe place for her son.

The letter from the city encourages hotels to allow locals into their establishments to help residents socially distance if need be.

While some hotels have a policy in place others never had one, like Courtyard by Marriott. "We do rent to the local community," General Manager Michael Rupkey said.

One thing both hotels have in common is the drive to help health care workers.

Courtyard by Marriott General Manager Michael Rupkey.

"We definitely have a discounted rate out there for them they would just need to show their badge," Rupkey said. "We have discounted down those rates to a much more desirable rate to make that option available for them," Schacht added.

Wojcik said this city response to ensure that Rochester residents have a safe place to stay during this pandemic shows how willing the community is to work together.

"I have not heard of a single hotel objecting and a lot saying we are happy to help you out, steer them our way we'd love to have those folks staying with us," Wojcik smiled.

Ubah Ali

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