About 80 industry representatives are crafting proposals for how Summit County businesses can reopen amid the pandemic
It’s time to begin preparing to open up the economy, Summit County officials have said, and they’re leaning on local businesses to propose rules for how they can operate safely during the next phase of the pandemic.
While it’s up to the county Health Department to make the call on when to begin easing restrictions — and what the loosened measures will look like — the process of deciding how to reopen the economy is already well underway, with officials eying May 1 as a tentative target for issuing a more relaxed public health order.
To that end, the county appointed more than 80 people to represent 26 business sectors including bars and nightclubs, faith-based organizations, fitness centers and recreation rental outfits.
It’s the representatives’ job to come up with suggestions for protocols about how to operate safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Each sector has two to four industry representatives and a member from a county stabilization working group that is assigned to shepherd the suggestions through the Health Department approval process.
The 27-person working group is mostly made up of Summit County employees and also includes Park City Municipal staffers and outside industry leaders, like Park City Chamber/Bureau president and CEO Bill Malone.
Several sector representatives told The Park Record they think the process is a good one and that they prefer coming up with protocols for their industries rather than receiving them from the government in a top-down approach.
They added that they’re hearing from other members of their business sectors, including competitors, who are chiming in with feedback on possible operating procedures.
Stanton Jones, the general manager and owner of Silver Mountain Sports Club and Spa, was chosen to represent large fitness clubs, along with the recreation director of the South Summit Aquatic and Fitness Center in Kamas. They’re working with two staff members and have convened virtual meetings with the other large facilities in their sector like the PC MARC. He reports that there has been consensus on many of the proposed protocols, like increasing sanitization supplies and closing the locker rooms and showers.
Scott House is the communications director for outdoor retailer Jans. He and a representative from Trout Bum 2 have been designated to lead the process for recreation retailers and rental operations. He said it has been tricky to write proposals that cover renting everything from tennis rackets to paddleboards that are specific enough to pass muster without being hundreds of pages long. He said industries are unlikely to skirt the rules because they feel a responsibility for their customers, employees and the community as a whole.
“Certainly don’t want to be the industry that didn’t disinfect mountain bike handlebars and that’s how everybody got sick,” he said.
He and Marjorie Jaques of Trout Bum 2 are working separately to come up with answers to a template form provided by Summit County, then planning to put their recommendations into one proposal. They then planned to disseminate it for comment from other businesses over the weekend and have a finalized proposal to submit on Monday.
The county’s template asks the sector representatives to identify the areas of greatest risk for exposing people to COVID-19, whether those areas are essential for the business to function and how they plan to mitigate that risk.
House said that many procedures were common sense, but others, like how to tip guides or instructors without using cash, took some thinking.
Tal Adair is a former Summit County councilor and one of the four representatives for the real estate/rental/leasing sector. He said he supports the process and that the county has done a good job handling a huge task.
“If you look at it as a whole, it’s almost overwhelming, but the county’s done well as far as biting it off into different entities,” he said. “Because we all don’t want to be back in this situation in a couple months. We want to be very conservative in our thoughts and process.”
When restrictions are loosened, there could be lag time before businesses reopen as they purchase supplies necessary to comply with the orders and train and possibly rehire staff.
The Summit County Health Department will review proposals submitted by the sector representatives, and Deputy County Manager Janna Young said a new public health order should be completed by May 1. But it will only be issued when the Health Department believes the data warrants it, she said. The existing orders, including the stay-at-home mandate, is set to expire at the end of the month, though officials have said it could be extended if needed.
A full list of the business sector representatives can be found at shorturl.at/cdp27.
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