April 2, 2020
March 27 Message from the Mayor regarding COVID-19 Actions

Dear Members of the Alta Community,

It is now two weeks since I first proclaimed a local emergency in the Town of Alta related to COVID-19. Events have progressed fast, and the staff and I have been working hard on behalf of our community. Public health and safety are most important, but we are also attending to the everyday matters of the Town. In this note I will provide information about the status of the Town and steps the staff and I have taken and will take as this emergency continues. Of course, new, additional actions by the Town, Salt Lake County, or the State of Utah can be expected.

My first emergency proclamation, issued on March 14, put into place the legal framework for further specific actions. In my second emergency proclamation, issued on March 18, I prohibited people from gathering in Alta in groups of more than ten, and from being in one another’s proximity; I closed all lodges and bars and restaurants; I prohibited nightly rentals; I ordered ill employees to stay home; and I reduced Town services to just those that are essential. These proclamations help protect people’s health and safety, serve the interests of our businesses by facilitating insurance and other resources, and are consistent with the actions of partner jurisdictions.

I have organized the Town staff so that they are mostly working from home, with generally only one person in the office at once. I have extended sick leave benefits so that no one loses money from staying home if they are ill. The Town office is mostly closed to the public, and Alta Central is entirely closed to the public. But the work of the Town continues. I am holding daily staff meetings via Zoom, and we review developments and make plans each afternoon. The post office is open, and we are developing means for increased social distancing there. I want to assure everyone that both administrative staff and the Marshals are available to be called upon. We will of course try to limit possible exposure to the virus, but we will do everything we can to help you. If you need something, please let us know!

So far, happily, we have received no reports of community members becoming ill with COVID-19. Four cases of lodge guests having fallen ill after returning home have been reported; it is now more than 10 days from when those guests were in Alta. People can spread the virus, however, without themselves experiencing symptoms, so it is important to abide diligently by the CDC advice for protecting yourself and others: clean your hands often, don’t touch your face, avoid close contact with others, cover coughs and sneezes, disinfect surfaces, and stay home if you’re sick.

Life has been going on more or less as it usually does in the off season, though it has come early this year. UDOT and Alta Ski Lifts avalanche mitigation teams continue to work, and we are likely to continue to have road closures and interlodge events. We will hold the next Town Council meeting at the regular time (5:00 pm on April 8), but we will do so electronically. The staff is working on how to do that as I write.

I have been in close contact with ASL’s management. They are allowing uphill skier traffic both in Grizzly Gulch and on the USFS permitted ski area, when it is safe, and we are seeing many day visitors. Alta Ski Lifts has opened restrooms at both base areas, and is disinfecting them throughout the day. We are working to keep visitors and residents safe and secure by monitoring parking and other behavior closely. We have been using our VMS trailers on the road and social media to tell visitors not to gather. Ironically, we have been discouraging carpooling, at least among people who are not members of the same household. If you see behavior that violates our emergency proclamations or norms of decency, you can let Alta Central know. If you decide to hike or ski, keep your distance from others and be cautious – emergency response teams are stretched thin, so please don’t “send it.”

I intend to communicate through this channel regularly so stay tuned for updates. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy.

~Mayor Sondak