Some Jacksonville hotels, B&Bs prepare for reopening, others unsure

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry has announced that hotels and other lodging places will be allowed to reopen to any guest beginning Monday.

Visit Jacksonville said the impact of the pandemic on the hotel industry has been devastating.

Hotel Palms in Atlantic Beach told News4Jax they will re-open when they get the green light. Co-owner Greg Schwartzenberger said the hotel will maintain strict housekeeping protocols. They already offer online check-in to minimize guest interaction.

When they do reopen, he said, the hotel will limit the number of guests to two people per room and that events will be for hotel guests only.

“We believe the fundamental approach to business is and always has been cleanliness and safety to our guests, and those two go hand in hand,” explained Schwartzenberger.

In Riverside, St. Johns House Bed and Breakfast will not reopen right away.

“I haven’t seen enough testing to make me comfortable welcoming people into the home and being there and not getting sick,” explained Joan Moore, the owner.

Moore said she will not reopen next month and stay closed until November. The state requires them to close six months out of the year, which they typically do in March and then June through October.

“These two months being closed means that we have an eight month run of being closed," Moore said.

When they do reopen in the fall, Moore said they will maintain health and safety measures.

The Jenks House might not reopen as B&B

After 16 years of operating as a bed and breakfast in Riverside, the owners of the bed and breakfast said they may never reopen as a b&b.

“We love what we do, but I don’t think we want to die for it,” said Tom Merten, the co-owner of The Jenks House. “And we certainly don’t want to cause anyone else any ill health.”

Merten said they had already decided to close for safety when the executive order was signed, making it six weeks since they had guests.

During what would normally be a busy time for the bed and breakfast, Marten said they’ll be closed unless there’s a vaccine for COVID-19.

“It’s just not worth it. Life is too precious,” Merten said.

The Riverdale Inn, however, housed a handful of essential lodgers.

Co-Owner Mary Mychael Waln said they’re ready to get back in the swing of things.

“Ever since they announced that our loggers don’t have to be essential anymore, we have had a lot more influx of people booking,” said Waln.

But she said the lodgers stay will be a bit different this go around.

The Riverdale Inn is dropping their rates to compete with larger hotels, they’ll temperature screen employees and require them to wear masks and gloves, they won’t have every room filled, and they’ll spread out booking time to allow for deep cleaning in between stays.

“We’re more concerned about their comfort and providing them a place to stay and will take care of ourselves on the back and the best we can,” said Waln.

Spring is typically a busy time for these businesses.

The Riverdale Inn said they are looking forward to rehiring employees and communicating with guests for a comfortable stay.

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