PARK CITY, Utah – City council in Park City decided they would like to see fewer people come to events this summer. How that will be enforced, however, is largely out of the city’s hands.
After almost the entire 2020 events calendar in Park City was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is gearing up to tackle this summer’s schedule.
Car-free Sundays will come back for a second year and Park Silly Market looks to return after a year hiatus from Main Street. Summer concerts at Deer Valley are set to make a comeback as well.
City Council on Thursday reviewed what they can and cannot do as far as enforcing COVID-19 health measures over the summer. Due to HB 294, dubbed the pandemic ‘endgame’ bill by the Utah Legislature, the city’s options are limited.
In addition to lifting the statewide mask mandate on April 10th, the bill would also end all other pandemic restrictions – either on July 1st or when the state reaches a 14-day case rate of fewer than 191 per 100,000 people, the seven-day average of intensive care unit capacity falls below 15%, or when the state has allocated at least 1.6 million doses of the vaccine. State leaders have said they expect Utah to meet these marks sometime in May.
When those requirements are met, Park City cannot have social distancing or mask wearing as conditions of an event’s approval, they can only encourage it, said Park City Economic Development Program Manager Jenny Diersen. However, she added that event organizers have expressed interest in having their own health measures in place.
“When the state lifts the requirement to submit protocols, a government, meaning the city or the county from what I currently understand, can no longer require those as a condition of approval,” Diersen said.” Now what I understand from many of our event applicants is they themselves are likely to continue to implement protocols. That might be mask mandates, it might be social distancing, additional signage, temperature checking, making sure people are coming into their events feeling healthy and being healthy in our community.”
Enforcement of those measures was another topic. For an event like the Deer Valley concerts, which take place on private property, the organizer can implement and enforce whichever health measures they choose. For an event on a public street like the market, things get a little more tricky.
A reduced number of vendors was briefly discussed as a potential way to reduce crowds, but with no ability to require health measures like masks or social distancing, there’s no easy answer.
The event on most people’s minds this summer is the Fourth of July and Park City’s iconic parade and fireworks, which were both cancelled in 2020.
Councilor Steve Joyce expressed doubt over just how the city could pull a parade off this summer.
“I’m just struggling to see how we have a parade this year,” said Joyce. “That’s the one that seems just kind of off the charts to me. That we can say, ‘hey, we’ll do this, but not that. We’ll have fireworks, but not a parade,’ or whatever it is we choose to do. I would certainly like to hear where we kind of end up on that at some point soon.”
Diersen said she will be presenting specifically on potential plans for Park City’s Fourth of July celebrations at the city council meeting scheduled for May 13th.
Councilor Max Doilney told KPCW that when it comes to health and safety this summer, with the city able to do little to enforce health measures, things will largely be left up to personal choice.
“To ask me whether I know what the exact risk is gonna be for you when you go out to enjoy your day, I think each individual is gonna have to make their own decisions on what they’re comfortable with,” he said.
Discussions on plans for car-free Sundays and the Silly Market are expected to be on the council’s agenda later in April.