Last week, Park City Chamber Bureau President Bill Malone presented a plan to the Summit County Council to begin marketing our area to prospective visitors. And the CEO of Vail Resorts Rob Katz also announced the company plans to have all of its resorts open by July.
With the county now in the so-called “Low Risk” phase of getting to a new normal to begin rebuilding the economy, county health officials remain cautiously optimistic we can stay there, in spite of increased tourism.
Malone told the Summit County Council that research shows people aren’t comfortable getting on a plane yet, so they’ll focus their efforts on markets that are within a day’s drive.
Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough is hopeful we can maintain our positive trend with COVID-19. While Bullough isn’t a fan of the name of the yellow phase, “low-risk,” because he believes we are still at significant risk, he says the chamber bureau’s approach to bringing back tourism makes sense.
“Part of that is economic but part of it is, of course, is just trying to be protective,” Bullough said. “In Utah well actually if you look at our COVID numbers things look quite good.”
And he expects that hot spots will flare up. Right now, Salt Lake City is still in orange – and he says need to watch things like that, especially in the smaller communities.
“I worry about, you know, some of the smaller communities in our County who have been fortunate to not be real severely impacted by COVID-19, Bullough said. “That can change in a heartbeat. If one event is held that has a person or multiple people who are infected, all of a sudden, these small communities are finding these growing incidents in their homes and communities. So, I do worry about it.”
Perhaps even a bigger challenge though, he says is getting people to engage in the economy.
“Things have changed, and we've all gotten a little bit used to doing less interaction with our economy and I think gradually that needs to change,” he said.
Last week, Woodward Park City announced it planned to reopen for the Memorial Day weekend and Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz sent an email to employees telling them while the company intends to take its time to reopen – the hope is to have the lifts turning at all of their resorts by late June or early July… Bullough believes that is doable. The data he says is clear that being outdoors, the risks of COVID are mitigated. It’s indoors where the disease is spread.
“There are ways to mitigate the risk and that's what they're focused on,” he said. “The data are becoming quite clear on how they can do that and I'm confident that they could do it, but it won't be business as usual I don't think. There will be some tweaks, but I feel quite good about where we are right now.”
The resorts Bullough adds have been great partners and very responsible.