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For Immediate Release: October 23, 2005
 Contact:
Meg Shannon (850) 443-9775

DBPR Reminds Hotel Owners to Follow Safe Operating Procedures

Tallahassee – The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) Division of Hotels and Restaurants urges lodging operators throughout the state to take special measures during power or water outages and other emergency conditions. The Division performs critical inspections in the aftermath of a significant weather event.

”No one should enter affected areas until cleared to do so by local law enforcement and emergency response authorities,” said Secretary Simone Marstiller. “We urge hotel operators to take all necessary precautions to safeguard both their employees and their guests.”

Lodging operators and consumers alike are reminded that structural building conditions and environmental factors should be carefully evaluated prior to re-entry after a storm event. Standing water can conceal “live” electrical power lines and present the serious threat of injury or death. Operators should take steps to ensure employees, guests, tenants or occupants do not enter areas until thoroughly checked for potential hazards.

Also of concern during evacuation events are price gouging issues. Price gouging violations may occur only after a declared emergency by the Governor and are enforced by the Attorney General and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS). Prices that will be considered to be in violation are those which are unlawfully charged for essential goods and services relative to price averages 30 days prior to the declared emergency as mandated by statute.

During evacuations, rates may lawfully vary for different consumers based on the accommodations provided and when those accommodations were reserved. For example, reservations made prior to an evacuation or booked at corporate rates or as package deals may be lower than same-day or walk-in rates. Whenever possible, consumers are urged to call ahead and make reservations, record reservation confirmation numbers, and ask about reservation cancellation policies.

Price gouging may be reported via the Attorney General’s hotline at 1.866.966.7226 or the DOACS hotline at 1.800.HELPFLA (435.7352).

The Division of Hotels and Restaurants is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of the public through education in partnership with industry. DBPR licenses nearly 1 million businesses and professionals ranging from real estate agents, veterinarians, and accountants to contractors and cosmetologists. For more information, please visit www.MyFlorida.com/dbpr.

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Last updated: November 09, 2007

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