Peru Creek, a popular backcountry area for skiing and snowshoeing near Keystone, was inundated by users this past weekend. (Provided by Julie Sutor, Summit County communications director)
Summit County, which has had nine confirmed cases of coronavirus, is urging non-resident recreationists to stay away while encouraging its residents to exercise outside.
“We’re doing everything we can to slow the spread of (the coronavirus), and when we have lots of folks coming up from the Front Range into the mountains, that flies in the face of everything we’re trying to accomplish,” said Julie Sutor, Summit County director of communications. “We don’t want people to come here. We heard from the governor that everyone in the state needs to be conducting social distancing to the greatest extent possible, and the longer we prolong the outbreak, the longer we will be suffering the health and economic impacts of the novel coronavirus.”
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Sutor said she doesn’t have the numbers to indicate how many visitors recreated in Summit County over the weekend.
Summit County recognizes the value of its residents getting outdoor exercise, Sutor said, as both Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock have emphasized. But there are also reasons to recreate closer to home.
“Having people cross county lines and having the opportunity to spread the disease from one person to the next is exactly the opposite of what we need Coloradans to be doing right now,” Sutor said. “We are not discouraging Summit County residents from getting outside and exercising. It’s good for their physical health, it’s good for their mental health, and we know there are lots of Summit County residents who are doing that within county lines in a responsible way and maintaining appropriate social distancing. We think that is a great thing for them to be doing.”
All Colorado ski areas are closed by executive order of Gov. Polis, and Summit County’s four ski areas — Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin — have banned uphill skiing. The Loveland ski area in neighboring Clear Creek County had hundreds of uphill skiers over the weekend, parking on shoulders of U.S. 6.
“I haven’t seen this myself, but I have heard people describe what was happening at Loveland ski area as a conga line going up the hill,” Sutor said. “That is certainly not appropriate under the circumstances. All the ski areas in Colorado are closed down for the purpose of reducing the spread of coronavirus among individuals.”
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