County, towns and businesses work to inform visitors of COVID-19 requirements
DILLON — While most locals are familiar with COVID-19 restrictions, policies and guidelines in Summit County, groups and officials — as well as individual businesses — are working to educate visitors before they arrive.
The Breckenridge Tourism Office’s website, GoBreck.com, has a “what to know” page for visitors who plan to come to Breckenridge this summer. Spokeswoman Austyn Dineen said that the page is frequently updated as new information comes out and that it is the most visited page on the website. Dineen explained that local businesses are now being given the code to plug the page onto their website to take some of the education workload off of local businesses.
“(Businesses) don’t have to be continually updating information on what’s happening with COVID,” Dineen said. “We’ll do that on behalf of the businesses. They just have to have it on their pages so that it’s constantly being updated.”
The webpage includes information on local public health orders and includes top things for visitors to know when visiting Breckenridge, such as that masks are required in public and that there is a mandatory mask zone.
To alert anyone in Summit County of mask requirements, the county is sending out emergency phone alerts every Saturday. Summit County Director of Communications Julie Sutor said that the county has information related to COVID-19 and current public health orders posted on the county website, and they have been working through messaging plans with the Summit County Chamber of Commerce and the general business community. Residents may also have noticed message boards on roads throughout the county reminding people of mask and other COVID-19 related requirements and suggestions.
Brian Bovaird, Summit County’s director of emergency management, said that the county relies on two delivery methods when it comes to emergency alerts: Summit County Alert, an opt-in service, and the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, which people will receive an alert from if they have a cell phone and are in the targeted area.
“For COVID, we have been using wireless emergency alerts on Saturday mornings, one, because it does fit the parameters of public protective actions and life safety,” Bovaird said. “… The wireless emergency alert is our most effective tool to reach those people that probably otherwise would never sign up for SC Alert and might not be familiar with our orders.”
Sutor said that the alerts began over the Fourth of July weekend and that they will continue to be sent out on Saturday mornings through August, when it will be evaluated whether or not the alerts should continue through September.
While Sutor and Bovaird said it is difficult to quantify the effect of individual messaging methods, overall Bovaird said there seems to be an increase in compliance with mask-wearing among visitors since the county first started to reopen. Sutor pointed out that any kind of behavior change will take more than one impression of a message, which is why reinforcement of messaging is important. She added that the county will soon launch a campaign via digital advertising about ways people can prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Since a lodging company is often one of the first points of contact for a visitor planning a trip to Summit County, the local lodging community is also helping to educate those visiting the area on requirements through pre-arrival messaging. Breckenridge Lodging Association President Toby Babich explained that most lodging companies already have setups for pre-arrival communications for guests, and have integrated information about new requirements and expectations at their properties and in the area as a whole.
At Babich’s business, Breckenridge Resort Managers, arrival letters that are given to guests have especially pertinent messaging bolded and at the top of the letters. Arrival information also includes documents from the county and state regarding masks and physical distancing, and guests are alerted of rules and regulations in communications prior to their stay.
“We try to hit them from all angles and make sure long before they even get in the car or on their plane to come here that they’re fully informed of the new way of operating here at Breckenridge,” Babich said.
Babich said that guests have generally been successfully reached with the necessary information about requirements for visiting the area during the pandemic and have been receptive to the changes.
“I think it gives people a lot of peace of mind to be able to come to a place like Breckenridge where we are so adamant about keeping people healthy through social distancing, wearing a mask and improved cleaning protocols,” Babich said. “I think people are happy to see it.”
Babich added that the state mask mandate has cleared up some confusion about where masks are required. Looking forward, Babich feels it is important to set the expectation for future fall and winter guests that these restrictions will likely be in place for “quite some time.”
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