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Thank God Summit County Is Opening Up from Covid!

Ding-dong the Witch is dead.
Which old Witch?
The Covid Witch
Let’s open up and ring the bells out
Let them know the Covid witch is dead!

How exciting. First, the Governor told me everything was OK and I didn’t need to worry about that pesky corona virus, and now the Summit County Council has voted unanimously to tell me that I need to get out and congregate, shop, and spend money again.

I was really feeling bad for Summit County. They were in the hole for like $10 million dollars. Was that round-about at Jeremy Ranch actually going to get finished this decade? Now my prayers have been answered. With Summit County’s new order, it frees up people from Utah County to come to Park City and tourists from around the world to bring their money and everything else into our fair corner of the world.

Better yet, Thursday the county released a 56-page health order telling local businesses on how to act when they open up less than 18 hours later. I mean, usually, I would recommend some sort of forethought and planning, but I know we need the money. So, bring ’em in.

Just to be clear, I have watched a lot of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey and the number one criticism by Gordon is that a restaurant shouldn’t stack the raw bacon on top of the lettuce (who knew?). I totally get that given the health order that every restaurant in town will be able to guarantee the following:

  • Cleaning supplies must be single use (paper towels, disposable mop heads, etc.) or laundered between every use (dishtowels, mop heads, etc.).
  • Hand sanitizer will be available immediately outside of bathrooms.
  • Restaurants, Food Service, Food Trucks, Coffee Shops, Bars, C-stores, and Taverns, including lobbies and waiting areas, must close for cleaning in the morning, between shifts (or every four (4) hours), and evening. Cleaning and disinfecting includes all high-traffic areas, tables, chairs, door handles, phones, floors, restrooms, and any high-touch surfaces.
  • Staff who handle cash payments will not be involved in the preparation, handling, or delivery of food.
  • Staff must clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. More specifically, staff must ensure that surfaces, table tops, and areas that are used and touched often are cleaned and sanitized between use by members, guest, patrons and customers.
  • Employee Screening will include taking the temperatures of all employees.
  • Limit tables to groups of six (6) (unless members of the same household). Adjacent booths can be occupied if there is a minimum 5-foot (measured from the seat) effective barrier between booths. If a 5-foot barrier is absent, booths may be occupied if every other booth is skipped.
  • Small private events of twenty (20) people or less with reservations can only be accommodated by establishing a minimum 10-foot distance (or physical barrier) between the group and general public.
  • Maintain at least six (6) feet between seated customer groups, whether indoors or outdoors. Either move tables or mark off tables not to be used.
  • In waiting areas, a 6-foot distance must be maintained between parties or household groups, whether indoor or outdoor. Waiting areas will have floor markers to indicate proper spacing. Where 6-foot distance cannot be maintained, indoor group waiting areas are prohibited. Weather permitting, food establishments may use outdoor waiting areas with signs and other reminders for groups to maintain 6-foot social distancing. Consider using call-ahead or reservation systems to minimize wait times and stagger arrivals.
  • Upon entry, hosts point customers to signage that includes the following information: Remind individuals from separate parties to stand at least six (6) feet apart.
  • When possible, hosts should open doors for customers to help prevent congregating of customers at the entrance, show required signage, and explain operating practices.
  • Employees who interact with customers or ready- to-eat foods must wear nonsurgical masks or face coverings at all times and perform hand hygiene between interactions with each table.
  • Do not place utensils on table until customer is seated.
  • Staff will avoid touching items that have been placed on the table (menus, plates, utensils, pens, cups, etc.).
  • All customer tables and chairs must be disinfected between each customer or group. A dedicated staff member (not a server or other food handler) must clear and disinfect tables. Do not place tableware until customers are seated. Disposable single-use menus are strongly encouraged. If used, permanent menus must be disinfected after each use.oClose restaurant for cleaning and disinfecting in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Cleaning and disinfecting includes all tables, chairs, door handles, floors, bathrooms, and any high-touch surfaces.
  • Staff must use gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods (including ice). Gloves are not required when handling foods that have yet to be cooked.
  • Playgrounds inside or outside of restaurants will remain closed.
  • Buffet and self-serve restaurants will provide utensils, cups, plates and other service items only from the counter where food is ordered. None of these items will be accessible to the public. Buffet style restaurants will provide servers who will serve the meals from buffet to limit exposure. Customers will not be allowed within six (6) feet of the food serving area. Floor must be marked or barriers provided.
  • All shared outside dining areas will remain closed.
  • Customers at a restaurant bar must not be seated within six ( 6) feet of other customers, nor any taps, food, clean glasses, or the bartender work area (“the well”). Seats and stools in this area must be removed or unoccupied at all times if this 6-foot requirement cannot be met.
  • Condiments must not be kept on tables, but rather given to guests upon request. Condiment containers must be disinfected after each use. Self-serve condiment stations must be monitored and disinfected at least every thirty (30) minutes.
  • Self-serve drink stations must be monitored and sanitized at least every thirty (30) minutes, especially surfaces where customers touch. Cups, lids, and straws must be given to customers by food employees. Individuals may not bring their own reusable items (mugs, cups). Single-use items (including to-go boxes, pizza boxes, paper cups, and any other paper product that touches food) should be treated like ready-to-eat food and therefore should not be handled with bare hands by employees.
  • Disinfectants/sanitizers effective against SARS-CoV-2 virus must be available. Chlorine bleach at 100-200ppm is recommended. Use disposable cleaning supplies if possible (towels, mop heads, etc.). Other supplies must be laundered for use each day.
  • Employees in kitchen areas should practice social distancing whenever possible. Workstations should be arranged so that employees do not face one another. Non-surgical masks or face coverings are encouraged and training provided on the how to appropriately wear them. Whenever possible, staff should be separated into cohorts to minimize interaction between groups. All existing food regulations still apply.
  • Hand sanitizer must be available at all customer entrances and outside of public restrooms. Hand sanitizer must not replace hand washing by food handlers.oRestaurants will not operate if PPE, EPA- approved disinfectants and sanitizer, soaps, and other necessary cleaning supplies are not available.

Even if your favorite restaurant doesn’t understand the nuance of stacking raw pork on lettuce, the restaurant who is preparing your food is definitely going to incorporate those 34 tenants into their business practices by tomorrow. Dine-assured. Hell, they’ve had 18 hours.

Don’t worry though. There is strict enforcement coming tomorrow. According to the county, “The County Sheriff and Chiefs of Police within the County are directed to ensure compliance with and enforce this Order. Notwithstanding such, the purpose of this Order is to protect individuals’ health and not to hold them criminally liable. Discretion will be used in the citing and prosecution of violations of this Order.” Nothing gives me more faith in the law than when we have some good “Discretions” and “notwithstandings” in the order.

Restaurants are one thing, but what I’m really looking forward to is all the people from the Salt Lake Valley coming up to use our trails. While our Corona-counts started out big, we are having many fewer cases here. We can change that! I welcome all the people from Utah county who have not been practicing social distancing into our community. There’s nothing like a unanimous vote from your county’s leaders to say, “We welcome you and your money, even if you have Ebola.”

All that said, what I am looking forward to even more than Ebola is the Park City Fourth of July Parade. Where else can I get sweat on by strangers who are standing less than 1/2 inch away from me? Even better, most of those people are from Utah county!!! MMMM. Money.

Given the likely increases in Covid-19 (or is it 20 by now?) from these actions, my kids won’t be able to go to school next fall. What a blessing. I’ll be able to part-time teach them at home far better than any professional who went to 4-8 years of college and/or grad school, and who has taught for 10 years, ever could.

Finally, I am thankful for Sundance, or the lack-there-of. It’s a great idea to open our county up in the shoulder season. That way, this summer we can bring in all sorts of infections. Then right about November, the Sundance Institute can conclude that it’s too dangerous to hold a film festival in Park City in January. Just think about how little traffic we will have and how empty the wine store will be!

Good times indeed! I’m am just so excited to see how this all works out and how much money we can make! What could possibly go wrong?

PSA: All the above joking aside, nothing has changed with the corona virus because five members of the Summit County Council had a vote. There is no cure. There is no vaccine. You’ve heard about “flattening the curve.” That is just an attempt to make sure we have enough hospital beds and ventilators available for those that get sick. It has little to do with your chance of getting the disease — or its impacts.

I believe announcing that we are opening the county is a mistake. I do understand that the pandemic has negatively impacted friends and local businesses. It sucks. How do they survive without customers? My fear is that opening too soon is the death knell. If Christmas and then Sundance is canceled, it will be far worse. My fear is that our actions today will contribute to that outcome, negatively.

Here’s hoping we get lucky.


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