Park City Chamber/Bureau conducts poll of businesses regarding mask rules
Organization wants to learn of plans as likely end of state mandate nears
The Park City Chamber/Bureau has conducted a poll of businesses designed to gather opinions about mask requirements, a survey that has just four questions but one that could be telling as the community readies for the prospects that measures designed to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus could be relaxed in coming months.
The Chamber/Bureau survey notes Gov. Spencer Cox is considering lifting the mask mandate on a statewide basis in April and that vaccinations for frontline workers in Summit County could be completed by May 31. The Utah Legislature passed a bill earlier this month that would end the statewide mandate April 10. Cox is expected to sign the legislation.
They key questions in the survey are:
• “Regardless of the state mandate, Park City and Summit County should continue to mandate masks until May 31, 2021,” with options for answers ranging from strongly disagreeing to strongly agreeing with the statement.
• “Park City and Summit County should follow the state mandate,” with options for answers being the same.
• “My business will continue to require masks regardless of state mandate until further notice,” with “Yes” and “No” as the answer options.
The survey was scheduled to close on Tuesday. It was not clear when the results would be made public.
Jennifer Wesselhoff, president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, said in response to a Park Record inquiry that preliminary results indicate that a majority of businesses plan to continue requiring masks even if the state mandate is lifted.
The Chamber/Bureau represents businesses across Park City and into Summit County, meaning that the results are expected to cover a wide range of sectors and places inside and outside of the city. Much of the discussion about measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus has centered on the tourism industry that drives the Park City-area economy. The survey by the Chamber/Bureau, though, extends to sectors that are not as reliant on tourism, such as educational services and utilities. The Chamber/Bureau has been a key player as the Park City area emerged from the shutdowns in the spring of 2020 and then mounted a tourism comeback of sorts during the summer, the fall and the ski season.
The mask mandate has been controversial for months. Although there has appeared to be widespread support for the mandate among Park City-area businesses, there have also been reports of incidents in the community between people wearing masks and those without them. In one case, in June, the Park City Police Department was called to a health club to investigate a dispute between two men that centered on one of them not wearing a mask.
Public health officials say masks are a key measure in curbing the spread of the sickness while some in the public see a mandate as infringing on their rights.
The results of the question regarding whether a business will continue to require masks until further notice regardless of a state mandate could be especially noteworthy. A business owner, as the person who sets policies and procedures at their place, will be able to require masks even after the end of any mandate by a government. Under that scenario, a business owner would likely weigh the threat to the health of staffers and customers against the inconveniences of mask wearing. Those sorts of decisions — especially any involving high-profile businesses — could ultimately draw attention as the various sides of the debate about masks learn of the arrangements.
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Park City Attorney Margaret Plane recently sent a memo to elected and appointed officials, as well as candidates in the City Hall election, cautioning them about making public statements regarding development proposals. The memo outlines that stands on planning and zoning matters could jeopardize a later process, such as when a decision by the Planning Commission is put to the City Council through an appeal.