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Emergency Proclamation Quarantines Alta Second-Home Owners For 14 Days

ALTA, Utah – The Alta town mayor has declared his fourth emergency proclamation, aimed at the owners of second homes in the area.

Skiers have still been able to recreate, even though Alta Ski Area and resort has been closed.

“You can see there’s still so much snow,” said Alta Mayor Harris Sondak while looking at the snow-covered mountains that surround the town. “There is good skiing if you’re willing to hike for it.”

Lots of people have been willing to take that hike.

Sondak said he has still seen lots of people still coming into town, especially on the weekends, which is why he issued the latest emergency proclamation.

“If you come to Alta from outside the state of Utah, we are requiring you to quarantine in your home for 14 days,” he said.

About 400 residents call Alta their main home, but hundreds more have second vacation homes there.

 Many of them have come from states where coronavirus is worse than it is in Utah, so some of those homeowners may come to Alta, their second home, to try and escape their first home.

However, there’s a chance they may have brought the virus with them.

“If you have a second home, we’re asking you to stay at your primary residence, wherever that is. If you do come here, you’re going to have to quarantine yourself,” said Sondak. “We’ve asked the caretakers, the house keepers, not to enter any buildings until they’ve been vacant for 72 hours to clean.”

There have been no confirmed coronavirus cases in Alta. Sondak would like to keep it that way.

Many of the hardest hit areas of the country are from small mountain ski towns in places like Colorado, Idaho, and even Park City.

“It’s because we have a lot of people coming from all over the world and in relatively tight quarters. Inside a lodge, inside a dining room,” said Sondak. “We’re better than some. I think our relatively lack of nightlife actually has helped us.”

However, daytime outdoor recreation is what Alta is known for.

“On average, we’re seeing 550 to 600 vehicles a day on Saturdays and Sunday. Maybe 200 or so on weekdays,” said Alta Town Marshal Mike Morey. 

For the most part, Morey said people have been social distancing.

Sometimes, though, reminders are necessary.

“We have had a couple of instances where we have seen gatherings that just look a little tighter than what we’d like to see,” said Morey. “We’ve been able to roll up on them, ask them for their cooperation, and so far, everybody has been very genuine and helpful in the effort.”

Writing a citation is the last thing Alta wants to do. Instead, town leaders hoped all their efforts minimize the amount of people coming here.

“We’re trying to keep our local folks safe, but we’re also not wanting to be a place that attracts people and gets them sick,” said Sondak.

The mayor also wanted to stress to those still coming there for outdoor recreation, to dial it down a little bit. As in, don’t be so aggressive if you’re skiing or snowshoeing.

If you get hurt, Sondak said that means tying up a hospital bed, medical staff, masks, and other medical resources.

“Hospitals in the valley don’t have a lot of extra resources right now,” said Sondak. “So, if you come here to go skiing, I’m just going to ask people to take it easy when they come up here.”

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