SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah, March 15, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Summit County health officials have announced the closure of all dine-in food service Sunday, the first directive of its kind in Utah.
Summit County Health Director Richard Bullough told reporters Sunday afternoon that an official order has been issued, ordering the closure of the dining areas in restaurants, as well as the closure of libraries, recreation centers, clubs, and facilities that serve food remotely, such as Uber Eats. The order will last for 30 days with a review pending after 14 days, and that may well be extended. There will be an ongoing review process every couple of weeks, Bullough said. He added grocery stores will not be closing.
“If restaurants are drive through, they absolutely still can serve food,” Bullough said. “If restaurants choose to find a way to provide curbside pickup, they can still prepare and serve food. They’re going to have to work through the Health Department to provide us their plans for doing that and we’ll review those. If restaurants are, in a safe way, able to provide the meals without people gathering, then we are allowing that.”
Bullough said that in terms of economic impact, the county has issued a public health emergency and a government emergency to access potential state and federal funds. There are also several foundations that have engaged together, as well as community leadership that is leading a work group to identify resources.
“The intent is to limit incentives to gather in Summit County,” Bullough said. “And it’s important to note that as this event has unfolded, the coronavirus pandemic, in Summit County we’ve been disproportionately hit. We’ve had a high prevalence, relative to the state, relative to our population size.”
He said Summit County is home to about 40,000 residents, and yet of the 21 Utahns that have tested positive for the coronavirus, two of those are in Summit County.
The first case of community spread was identified Saturday when a Summit County resident tested positive. The man worked as a doorman at the Spur Bar & Grill in Park City and has not traveled or had known contact with anybody infected with COVID-19.
In addition, seven non-Utah residents have tested positive in the state; six of those are in Summit County. Bullough said several people are currently being tested and several more, as well as a couple of families, are in self-isolation.
Bullough said that currently there are about 10,000 visitors in town, and the current plan is to disincentivize visitors from coming to Summit County and to disperse the visitors that are in town.
He said that other steps are also being taken to try and slow the spread.
“We felt we had to take some aggressive actions, and make sure that we discourage gathering,” Bullough said. “It’s important for everybody to know that COVID is transmitted by close contact. We’re a tourist economy, so one of the first things that we did is we talked about the closure of ski areas.”
He said most ski areas, including Park City Mountain Resort, Utah’s biggest ski area, will voluntarily close for at least a week.
Guidelines are also being put in place to ensure transportation meets the industry standard for cleanliness.
Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information is made available.