UPDATED: Park City Council Votes to Cancel Fourth of July Events, Examine Big-Ticket Sporting Events
The Park City Council unanimously decided to cancel all events for the summer season. The council did not approve a 4th of July parade, fireworks or hosting the long running volleyball tournament in the park. The list of cancellations includes Triple Crown baseball and softball, Park City Soccer and Lacrosse tournaments along with Miners Day gatherings.
Clarification: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Park City Council voted to cancel all summer events in Park City. The Park City Council has canceled all city July 4 events and is considering plans to alter future events.
COVID-19 cases are spiking dramatically in Utah and surrounding states. Park City Council voted to cancel all July 4 events and has asked staff to look at the lineup of large sporting events scheduled this summer and present mitigation plans to avoid spreading the virus.
Thousands of visitors and participants accompany the annual competitions, which are scheduled to begin in July.
The Park City Council has not canceled any events since the outbreak of COVID-19 in mid-March. Prior to this direction, many events and activities were canceled by the organizers.
An extensive discussion occurred in Thursday’s meeting which included input from the Summit County Public Health Director Rich Bullough. He told council there are trends in the COVID-19 infection rate that are disconcerting.
“Our numbers generally are better than surrounding counties, but these following trends are real concern,” Bullough said. “The proxy transmission rate ... has increased steadily for a significant amount of time.
“Since June 10 it has exceeded the 1.5 that is the goal of the state. And, by the way, 1.5 is too high, in our opinion. Anything above 1 means the disease is spreading. It's growing so we've exceeded that since June 10 and our current rate is 2.5.”
He said the data on travel-related cases is not good either. The increases have been steady, going from 0% in the last part of May with continuous increases that are now at 13%.
Councilmember Becca Gerber said she was concerned about the city being able to enforce guidelines such as mask-wearing and social distancing during an event that brings thousands of people to town. While experts have less concern over outdoor activities, Gerber said she is worried about the after-hours activities that occur.
“It’s okay if we don’t have events for a season,” Gerber said. “You know, I don't think that’s shutting down town. I think that people are still coming. We've seen that over the past several weeks that people are coming in. They’re going shopping. I don't think we need to make an extra effort to invite people from around the country to come to town right now.”
Mayor Andy Beerman didn’t vote on the issue because there was unanimous support from council to cancel summer events. He said the council’s feeling was “pretty clear” and that the public has given him direction to err on the side of caution.
“I have got my phone and my inbox clogged right now with residents that have concerns about these events,” Beerman said. “And I think how much that is perception versus reality. Reality is, this town is very fragile right now; we got hit hard this winter. It scared everybody. It caused a lot of health risks. It had huge economic impacts, and everybody feels like they've made large sacrifices because they have to get us to this point on the road to recovery.”
A half-dozen people provided council with public input during the meeting with opinions split on allowing summer events in Park City. The Fourth of July parade is canceled along with fireworks and events in the park, like the long-running volleyball tournament. The Park City Ski and Snowboard Team will also hold a virtual 5K run.
Staff will evaluate each event separately to determine how they could be held safely. The events in question involve thousands of visitors from surrounding states that are also experiencing spikes in COVID-19 infection rates.