“Easter is typically a time for family gatherings, picnics, and outdoor fun,” a statement from the San Juan Public Health Department reads, before noting “this year will require all of us to do things very differently.”
The county health department urged residents to stay home for the holiday weekend as well as discouraged those thinking of traveling to the area.
“Our local infrastructure is not equipped for an influx of visitors,” a statement from the county read, noting that “local businesses are struggling to provide necessities to our residents while faced with the added burden of providing for visitors.”
The San Juan County Health Department is prohibiting non-residents from camping or recreation in the county, including San Juan County property owners who do not live in the county full time.
“We understand the difficulty of this message, and encourage you to visit us when the Public Health Order is lifted,” said the statement.
The Grand County COVID-19 Taskforce addressed the issue in a Facebook post, saying “We know the public is frustrated with what seems to be an increase in out of state visitation to Moab,” and outlining ways the department is trying to enforce bans on camping and overnight accommodations for non-residents.
“This pandemic is not a vacation,” a later post from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office reads.
The office’s weekend efforts include increase patrols near popular visitor camping areas and airing public service announcements on local radio stations.
The Moab Area Travel Council is also taking a hard stand for the holiday weekend, removing lodging links from their website and reminding property owners that if someone is caught defying the order they will receive a citation and a mandatory court appearance.
“These are just a few of the efforts underway,” the Taskforce reported.
The Southeast Utah Health Department issued suggestions on how to celebrate the Easter holiday without breaking public health orders and encouraging families to stay home.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced that all travelers coming into the state via air or popular roadways are expected to fill out a short survey on their health status to be sent to the Utah Department of Health.
In an effort to curb tourism to the area and slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Utah’s National Parks including Arches, Canyonlands and Zion have largely closed.