The city of Galveston has ordered all short-term guests staying in vacation rental properties to leave the island.
The order, ratified by Galveston City Council during a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday afternoon, will be in effect at least until 5 p.m. April 3.
It's the latest in a series of executive decisions by Mayor Jim Yarbrough to discourage tourists from traveling to Galveston. The city declared a state of disaster March 16 and since then has closed bars, tourist attractions and the dining rooms of restaurants.
"No tourists," Yarbrough said. "Period. That’s the bottom line."
The order doesn't apply to Winter Texans, people who spend the winter months in Galveston, or people who are staying for more than 30 days in a short-term rental property, Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough's order focused on short-term rentals exclusively, rather than including hotels and motels, because the island's vacation rentals have a higher occupancy rate than hotels.
Island hotels have only about 6 percent occupancy, while the short-term rental owners are reporting near 100 percent occupancy, Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough also wants hotels to remain functional in case the city needs to use them to house first responders or as hospital rooms, he said.
"If you close a hotel, it doesn't just open on a dime," Yarbrough said.
The city council plans to meet next week and might revisit that order if city hotels begin filling up with tourists, he said.
Enforcement will be based on good-faith trust, Yarbrough said.
"Enforcement is tough," Yarbrough said. "It's tough during normal times."
Tuesday's decree also comes with orders that close city fishing piers and game rooms, Yarbrough said.