Park City-area mask mandate ends soon, but many businesses may require coverings anyway
An earlier Chamber/Bureau survey indicated individual places would keep rules intact
The statewide mask mandate in Utah expires on Saturday.
But it is likely many businesses in the Park City area will require one be worn even after the end of the mandate and after the County Courthouse’s decision against enacting its own mask requirement.
Once the mandate expires, individual businesses will decide whether they will require people to wear masks. It is not clear how many will enact their own rules regarding mask wearing, and it is not known whether certain industries will be more apt to require masks than others.
But a survey taken by the Park City Chamber/Bureau toward the end of the ski season provides at least some evidence of an interest by individual businesses in the Park City area to continue a mask-wearing requirement on their own beyond the end of the mandate.
That survey, which was not scientific and involved nearly 400 businesses from a variety of sectors, found 72% of the businesses indicated they will require masks regardless of the lifting of the mandate in the state. The survey also found 68% of the businesses said a mask mandate should be continued in Park City and Summit County through May 31, at the earliest. Another response, meanwhile, showed 58% of the businesses said Park City and Summit County should not follow a rescinding of the state mask mandate, which at the time had already been set for Saturday.
The Chamber/Bureau said on Tuesday there is no evidence the responses will have changed significantly by the date of the end of the mandate.
Park City and Summit County leaders have urged masks be worn since the start of the spread of the novel coronavirus more than a year ago. Government leaders and tourism officials over the months have seen mask wearing as a key step in attracting visitors. The mask mandate was considered to be one of the reasons the tourism industry in Park City did not suffer as terribly as had been feared at the outset of the pandemic.
“We have not issued another survey but our anecdotal evidence (ongoing conversations with our members and local residential response to news articles on the subject) suggest that it is a popular option for local businesses to extend mask mandates in local venues at least through May 31st,” Jennifer Wesselhoff, the president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, said in a prepared response to an inquiry from The Park Record.
Wesselhoff also said the impact of the end of the mandate “is hard to predict.”
“I suspect most businesses who consider masks to be important will continue to require customers to wear them. I think it is likely customers who prefer masks will wear them whether or not an individual business requires it. We are hopeful that customers who prefer not (to) wear masks will honor any individual business’ requirement that masks be worn on the premises,” she said.
She said the number of coronavirus cases and vaccinations efforts will impact businesses even as the mask mandate ends.
“Park City can only return to pre-pandemic economic levels once the visitors feel it is safe to travel. The end of the mask mandate is one step towards normalization only if Covid rates continue to drop,” she said. “Vaccination rates are going to have a more significant impact on Park City’s economic recovery than mask mandate policies in the long run, because it ultimately is about getting permanently past Covid-19.”
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