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Vail preps for phased reopening as Polis clarifies ‘Safer at Home’ policy

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April 22, 2020, 4:45 pm

In anticipation of a new public health order from Eagle County that will become effective in the coming days, the Town of Vail is preparing for the next phase of sustainable social distancing that will incrementally return a number of municipal services following a shut-down caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In an update to the Town Council Tuesday, an overview of existing and upcoming services was provided by Town Manager Scott Robson and included the following:

• The town is well equipped and fully staffed to respond to calls for service by the Police and Fire departments.
• Transit operations in Vail will return to service beginning Monday, May 4 with free outlying and in-town routes offered for passengers who comply with safety requirements to protect the health of drivers and riders. All passengers must follow the current practices implemented by ECO and Avon Transit. This includes wearing face coverings, entering and exiting through the rear door and practicing social distancing.
• In an effort to offer the community more library services, Vail Public Library is offering daily curbside pickup by appointment. Patrons may select their materials by using the online catalog at www.vaillibrary.com and placing a hold on the items. Staff will then make contact via email or phone to arrange a time for pick up.
• Community Development Department is actively processing construction applications, performing plan reviews and issuing approved permits, as well as performing inspections Monday-Friday. Construction sites are required to follow public health orders.
• Public meetings conducted by town board and commissions will be held virtually until public health orders allow in-person gatherings greater than 10.
• Municipal Court will hold a session in May with a date to be announced.
• Free dumpsters will be available to residents to dispose of bulky items May 4-15, or until they are full. The dumpsters will be located at the North Trail parking lot in West Vail, Ford Park parking lot and the East Vail interchange parking area at I-70 exit 180. In lieu of the annual cleanup activities, residents are encouraged to get outside and clean up their neighborhoods while practicing social distancing.
• Seasonal landscape crews will begin Monday, May 18. Activities include flower planting, mowing, etc. Street sweeping and cinder pick up began April 20.
• Sole Power green commuting challenge will begin Monday, May 25; www.solepower.org.
• Chipping services provided by Vail Fire and Emergency Services will begin Monday, June 15.
• Overnight parking in the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures will remain free through Sunday, June 28. Beginning Monday, June 29, there will be a $25 charge for overnight parking.
• Electric bike share pilot program will take place in Vail July 1-Sept. 9.

While the town is focusing on the safe return of municipal services and activities that are conducted outdoors, Robson says public access to buildings will remain by appointment only until additional restrictions are lifted. Administrative employees will largely continue to work remotely as recommended by public health officials.

Robson says the town has also turned its attention toward Vail’s economic recovery which has included working one-on-one with event promoters to help provide guidance on protocols that could allow some outdoor events to take place later this year as well as events that will be rescheduled or cancelled. The GoPro Mountain Games, for example, has been rescheduled to Aug. 20-23, should conditions allow.

In addition, Robson recommended to Town Council that a Vail Economic Recovery Task Force be formed immediately as a subset of the existing Vail Economic Advisory Council. While the Task Force will focus primarily on Vail initiatives, the group will work closely with regional economic recovery committees being convened through both the County and the Vail Valley Foundation. “It’s critical that the town continue taking proactive steps forward in what could be a lengthy economic recovery and we’re lucky in this small community to have a deep pool of individuals with extensive business, nonprofit and government experience who are ready and willing to share their economic insights and ideas to help ensure that Vail is on the forefront of economic recovery as this global health crisis slowly subsides,” said Robson.

Lastly, Robson announced the first round of funding from the Vail Community Relief Fund has been awarded. A review committee with representation from the Town Council and staff met on April 20 and evaluated 14 funding applications and awarded the following: $100,000 toward food relief efforts; $100,000 toward behavioral health; and $85,000 toward rental relief for residents. The list of organizations awarded funding support will be listed on the town’s website at www.vailgov.com. Residents and employees in need of assistance are asked to contact the funding recipients directly to apply for aid. Robson says a second round of funding for nonprofits has been made available and applications will be accepted through May 4.

For additional information on the town’s COVID-19 response, visit www.vailgov.com/COVID-19.

In other news, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who will make a virtual announcement Thursday on Eagle County’s request to lift some state restrictions, provided the following clarification on his pending “Safer-at-Home” policy:

Gov. Polis provides update on state response to COVID-19

DENVER – Gov. Jared Polis today provided an update on how the state is responding to COVID-19 and provided further clarification on what the Safer-at-Home phase of the pandemic will look like for Coloradans. 

“I want to reiterate, the Safer-at-Home phase is not going back to life as normal. It’s not a major adjustment from where we have been,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Safer-at-Home means most Coloradans should continue to limit social interactions to the greatest extent possible to just individuals in your household and wear facial masks when you are out. I’m proud of how Colorado has come together during this difficult period to stay home as much as possible, protecting ourselves and our neighbors. But we still have work to do – we are not through the woods yet.”

The goal of the Safer-at-Home phase is to maintain 60-65% physical distancing. This means:

  • Vulnerable populations and older adults must stay home unless absolutely necessary. 
  • No group gatherings of more than 10 people. 
  • Critical businesses will remain open with strict precautions (social distancing, masks for all employees, more frequent cleanings, etc.)
  • Retail businesses may open for curbside delivery and phased-in public opening with strict precautions.
  • Nightclubs, gyms and spas will remain closed. 
  • Elective medical and dental procedures begin, with strict precautions to ensure adequate personal protective equipment and the ability to meet critical care needs. 
  • Personal services (salons, tattoo parlors, dog grooming, personal training, etc.) will open with strict precautions. 
  • K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions will continue to suspend normal in-person instruction for the 2019-2020 school year.  
  • Telecommuting continues for offices. Starting on May 4, up to 50% of staff can work in person (with social distancing in place).
  • The state is not changing requirements for nursing homes and other senior care facilities. There will continue to be restrictions on visiting residents.

The Safer-at-Home phase is not:

  • A free-for-all
  • An opportunity to leave the house as much as possible and spread the virus to others
  • An excuse to not wear a facial covering, or begin giving hugs or handshakes 
  • Going to the mountains to spend the weekend 
  • Conducting unnecessary travel
  • Having parties or get togethers
  • Playing in pick up sports games 

In the coming days, further guidance will be provided to a variety of affected industries including retail, offices, elective medical and dental services, child care, education, personal services, and real estate. 

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