Coffee With Council Discusses COVID-19 Safety And Return Of Tourists
This week’s Park City Coffee with Council covered social behaviors and safety practices related to the spread of COVID-19. Summit County has thus far had no virus-related deaths and council members credited that success to the community as a whole and the leadership from the County Health Department.
Thirty people tuned in for the virtual Coffee with Council. The questions focused mostly on what the city and its leaders can and should do to promote social safety protocols. Low cost PPE continues to be provided to businesses through a program funded by Park City, Summit County and the Chamber and Business Bureau. Several questions were posed about wearing face masks in public places where social distancing isn’t possible. City Council Member Max Doilney says it’s difficult to mandate such things and that using good judgement is needed.
“It’s an act of kindness to wear a mask, to have one with you. Some of these masks are really lightweight. They're not going to make it too hot. And if you're going to be at a trailhead, while you’re putting your shoes on and getting everything ready, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a mask on there. Anyplace where you’re gathering. It’s just a courtesy.”
Council Member Nann Worel says the data shows Summit County is trending well in this new yellow recovery phase.
“With that comes all sorts of wider restrictions on businesses. For example, instead of only having being able to have 100 people gathered is now up to 999 people being able to gather. They’re watching the data very closely. Summit County steadily is about two new cases a day. The rate is phenomenal. We have very few hospitalizations at the moment."
Community Engagement Manager Linda Jager relayed concerns about summer visitors who don’t comply with COVID-19 prevention practices.
“David Rockwood writes in saying he's pleased with Park City’s COVID compliance. Our tourists won't return to visit if they don't feel safe. Concerned about rushing to open. [It] can fully jeopardize our two million skier days in the winter. Tom Horton writes in: Summit County is not an island, although we like to think it is, the rest of Utah is clearly having a problem with voluntary compliance and suffering the results.”
Worel says they can’t mandate wearing masks and staying six feet apart. Doilney says there can’t be an umbrella policy over the city, but he believes giving people direction will change behavior.
“No shoes, no shirt, no service. Almost everybody adheres to that when they go into 7-11. A mask, I think it may end up being something we see for the rest of our lives. We’ll see it as a courtesy when you're sick, when you have a cold and you go out or if it's flu season, you’ll see a ot more masks out. I don’t think we will go back to zero masks anytime soon.”
Doilney says it’s a balancing act between getting people back to town and insisting on safe social practices. He says it’s not a 100 percent black and white issue.
“If I’m going to be 100%, that means I’m not going to be within six feet of anybody in my family until there's a vaccine. That means I'm going to wear a mask every time I go anywhere outside my driveway. That means that nobody is ever going to be allowed in my house and I’m not going to patronize any businesses because that’s scary and an exposure.”
Doilney acknowledges that many visitors aren’t practicing any form of social distancing and he understands the worry. However, he believes small businesses will fail if tourists don’t return soon.
Worel and Doilney support more signage and education asking visitors to wear masks in public, sanitize hands often and stay six feet apart.