[Courtesy National Park Service}

As recent public health orders allow hotels and motels to accept visitors to Moab, Grand County officials sent out a warning to tourists: don’t come here thinking you’ll hike to Delicate Arch.

“In order to reduce confusion for recreational tourists who may visit Grand County thinking our public lands are open, please note that the national parks in the Southeast Utah Group remain closed to all visitation,” a press release from Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan reads. 

A public health order released by the Southeast Utah Health Department was blunter with the message.

“SEUHD requests that visitors that are in Grand County on non-essential business return to their home and non-essential visitors planning to come to Grand County reconsider their plans and remain near their home,” the travel advisory portion of the order reads. 

While overnight accommodations can now accept limited guests, campgrounds and dispersed camping areas also remain closed to non-resident visitors under the public health order from the Southeast Utah Health Department. 

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount,” said Lynn McAloon, public information officer for the Southeast Utah Group, which oversees Arches and Canyonlands national parks as well as Natural Bridges and Hovenweep national monuments. All remain closed to the public as of April 30. 

“Decisions on a phased resumption of operations will be made on a park-by-park basis and regularly monitored,” McAloon wrote. 

Like many rural areas, Grand County remains concerned about the potential impact of a COVID-19 outbreak on Moab Regional Hospital. 

“These closures are important to help Grand County and the Southeast Utah Health Department manage its phased re-opening of lodging in Grand County by controlling the amount of recreational tourism that increases impacts upon our small critical-access hospital, medical and law enforcement teams, and Grand County EMS and Search & Rescue, which is the busiest in all of Utah,” the statement read. 

Sloan added that visitors should be encouraged to use face coverings or protective masks “in all public indoor and outdoor places when persons are unable to maintain safe social distancing of six feet or more,” adding that businesses are permitted to refuse service to individuals without face coverings.

Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert issued an executive order on April 30 allowing businesses and dining areas to reopen with safety precautions. The order also requires employees of all businesses in the state to wear protective masks at work.