Summit County implements sweeping business restrictions, closures aimed at slowing spread of COVID-19 |

Summit County implements sweeping business restrictions, closures aimed at slowing spread of COVID-19

Park City's Main Street.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record
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Summit County on Sunday announced sweeping, monthlong restrictions on the operations of businesses and churches, a stunning measure meant to slow the transmission of COVID-19 after the first case in the area of community spread of the novel coronavirus was detected. 

The order, issued by County Attorney Margaret Olson and Health Director Rich Bullough, is by a wide margin the most drastic step local officials have enacted to fight COVID-19 and a development that for many residents seemed unthinkable just weeks ago. 

The order was slated to become effective at 5 p.m. Sunday and expire on April 16, with Bullough reevaluating the order after 14 days.

Among the restrictions included in the order is a ban on dine-in service at restaurants. Establishments, including bars and restaurants in hotels, may offer curbside or drive-through pick-up to patrons, as well as delivery service, but cannot allow customers inside. Third-party delivery services like Uber Eats and Grubhub are not allowed. 

Restaurants must notify the county Health Department within 48 hours if they intend to remain open for curbside service. 

Grocery and convenience stores, importantly, remain open to the public. 

Entertainment venues such as movie theaters and music clubs, meanwhile, must shut down entirely, along with gathering places like recreational facilities and spas. Churches, notably, must also close. The closure also applies to communal spaces in lodging properties like pools, locker rooms and gyms. 

Also mandated in the order is the closure of ski resorts, a step the three ski resorts in the county took voluntarily on Saturday. Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts indicated all of its ski areas in North America would close through at least March 22. Alterra Mountain Company, which owns Deer Valley Resort, closed its properties until further notice, while Woodward Park City implemented a closure until March 22. 

The April 16 expiration date of the public health order is four days after the scheduled final day of the season at Deer Valley and PCMR. 

The order also includes broad requirements for businesses that are allowed to remain open. They must require employees and others to remain at least 6 feet from one another, a practice known as social distancing, in common areas. Businesses cannot allow ill employees to work or sick patrons to enter, while establishments that accept cash or credit cards must take sanitization measures between transactions.

Additionally, gatherings in the county must be limited to 100 or fewer people, or to 20 or fewer people if someone older than 60 is in attendance.

Violations of the order are criminal and are punishable by a class B misdemeanor on the first offense and a class A misdemeanor on subsequent offenses. Businesses that violate the order will be closed.

The order followed a significant development in the effort to fight the coronavirus. On Saturday, officials announced that a doorman at the Spur Bar and Grill on Main Street who had not recently traveled and had not been in close contact with another infected person tested positive for COVID-19, signifying the presence of community spread in the area. 

Officials have said the appearance of community spread marks a new phase in how they are approaching the outbreak. The mandated closures and regulations are necessary, according to county health officials, to slow the spread of the virus, a critical objective to ensure health care facilities do not become overwhelmed.

“The kinds of businesses and facilities identified represent those for which the risk of community transmission is higher due to groups of people gathering, the potential for contact with virus particles due to proximity, the exchange of cash and credit cards,” Bullough said in a statement Sunday. “Given the recent case of community transmission arising from a local restaurant and bar establishment, it is prudent to enact these regulations.”

The public health order was issued during what in a normal year is one of the final busy stretches of ski season. For most businesses, traffic in mid-March does not typically match what is seen during the holidays or the jammed Sundance Film Festival, but the order, significant in scope, is certain to have a devastating effect on the Park City-area economy in the short-term. 

After the plans for the restrictions surrounding restaurants became publicized Saturday, many establishments announced plans to close temporarily, rather than transitioning to curbside service. 

Among the restaurants that announced closures were the High West Saloon and the establishments in the Bill White Restaurant Group, such as Grappa and Chimayo. 

Diversified Bars and Restaurants, which operates No Name Saloon, Butcher’s Chop House and Bar, and the Boneyard, indicated it will close its properties Monday. The company said it will donate the proceeds of gift cards purchased during the closure to its staff members.

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