Park City advertises a mask mandate when there is none, potentially leading to confusion
City Hall says updated signs for Main Street are on order and will be displayed shortly
The statewide mask mandate expired earlier in April, but last weekend Park City offered a different message along Main Street.
City Hall continued to display a sign on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip with outdated information about mask requirements. The sandwich-board sign, located steps from a busy walkway linking Main Street with the Old Town transit center, advertised that “Wearing a mask is mandatory in all Park City shops and restaurants.” It said mask wearing was “Per State of Utah health order” with the City Hall logo at the bottom.
But mask wearing by the weekend was not mandatory, and the state health order the sign noted had ended days before, leading to the potential that the signs would cause confusion. The mask mandate, a public health rule that was designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, was especially controversial as case counts dropped sharply from the highs during the winter.
Although there is no longer a state mandate for mask wearing, individual businesses can continue to require the practice since they set rules on private property.
City Hall said on Tuesday new signs are on order to replace the ones that advertise mandatory mask wearing. Michelle Downard, the resident advocate at the municipal government, said the new signs had not arrived by Tuesday morning.
The new signs will encourage people to wear masks, but they will not describe a mandate like the previous ones, she said. Downard said City Hall expects to receive the new signs as early as Wednesday.
Park City leaders for more than a year have seen mask wearing as crucial to the tourism-dependent economy of the area. The thinking goes that many potential visitors would be more apt to travel to Park City with the security of a mask mandate. The Park City tourism industry surprised to the upside through much of the pandemic as travelers in the summer and fall were drawn to the community’s recreation activities and then skiers and snowboarders in the winter arrived in larger numbers than initially expected.
Many people have been seen on Main Street and elsewhere in Park City wearing masks even after the end of the state mandate. People last weekend were wearing masks on the Main Street sidewalks as well as inside businesses as they enjoyed the nice weather during the spring shoulder season in Park City.
There are numerous businesses on Main Street and in other places in Park City that continue to require masks. The Park City Chamber/Bureau in March conducted a survey that found nearly three-quarters of the businesses that responded said they will require masks regardless of the state mandate being lifted. The businesses that responded stretch through the Park City area rather than being limited to those on Main Street.
City Hall, meanwhile, also kept a mask requirement in place in municipal buildings like the Park City Library, the Marsac Building and the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center after the end of the mandate.
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Park City officials on Tuesday are scheduled to reconfigure a key stretch of road in Old Town. The alteration involves the section of Park Avenue between the 9th Street and Deer Valley Drive intersections.