The coronavirus was a major topic for a special meeting of the Council of Governments held on Tuesday, where attendees traded concerns about how they will enforce the county’s mandatory mask order.
On the positive side, they heard that the Oakley Rodeo went well, though it was scaled-down and COVID-conscious.
Among the comments during the COG meeting, Kamas Mayor Matt McCormick said he supports the mask order, given the number of people who come through Kamas. But he said it’s also frustrating for him and the town’s police force.
“I feel like it’s easier for a business owner to ask someone to put a mask on or leave their business, than it is for us as a government and as a police department to enforce it, based on the nature of the environment in today’s world,” he said. “It’s just difficult for me and Kamas with a police department trying to figure out, or justify putting my police officers in jeopardy of an unmasked person or an irate person for a mask infraction. Now if it turns into disturbing the peace or public disturbance or something like that, now in my mind it’s a different conversation. And I feel like it’s much easier.”
He wondered how they should react if the mask issue sparks a confrontation.
“Let’s say someone walks in a business wearing a mask, following the rules, and gets completely out of control because someone else isn’t and the cops get called,” McCormick said. “It’s likely that both could be cited for disturbing the peace or public disturbance. And that’s not the intent, but that’s the situation that’s being created in this environment.”
County Sheriff Justin Martinez agreed that it’s a difficult situation. With a lack of personnel in his department, he said he’s relying on education, and his deputies are equipped with extra face masks.
“What we’re really doing is if somebody is in actually complete violation, we may issue a citation,” he said. “But we had a gentleman come into the Justice Center without a mask on, reporting his actions in trying to invoke a confrontation with some of my deputies, and basically said, ‘I’m in the Justice Center. You guys require masks. Are you going to arrest me?’ And we just had a conversation with him, said ‘No we’re not going to arrest you. It’s not an arrestable offense, and we’re not gonna issue a citation.’ And it deflated the whole situation.”
Among other comments, Park City Mayor Andy Beerman said they appreciated the county’s Order, and city businesses liked that they don’t have to take the heat over any mask requirement.
Meanwhile, Oakley Mayor Wade Woolstenhulme echoed some other concerns from the East Side, saying he felt that the county’s COVID precautions had been focused on Park City operations, worried about the upcoming winter, and not the East Side, which is in its busy season.
On a related topic, though, Woolstenhulme said that Oakley’s annual rodeo was a success.
“We had around 600 contestants come into town and leave town. We had 1500 people attend the rodeo each night. We actually took the temperature of every contestant and every person that entered the facility. And I’m not aware of any fever or symptomatic person that came in.”
He said they had some good fireworks displays. Their Patriotic Program drew just 150 people, but worked well outdoors. And instead of a Fourth Parade, they had a Parade of Homes, with cars driving past decorated residences.
He said the event didn’t see the same profit as in past years, but they didn’t lose money.
“It just goes to show that you can still live,” he said. “There are scary things that happen to us all the time, and there’s fear of something all the time. And we just gotta be aware and take all the precautions we can, but we gotta keep living. And I think as far as implementing the mask and things like that, I think it’s more or less how you do it.”