Town of Breckenridge, Vail Resorts begin to plan for winter amid COVID-19
BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge Town Council on Tuesday, July 28, discussed possible aid for businesses and town residents if COVID-19 restrictions remain in place or tighten through winter.
Assistant Town Manager Shannon Haynes said a survey indicated about four businesses remain closed because of the public health order, and council members agreed to provide rental or mortgage assistance to those businesses at a maximum of $4,000 per month for up to two months.
However, the council discussed creating a more all-encompassing plan for helping businesses and residents in the event of another shutdown — or even if restrictions stay the same but the negative impact on businesses persists into the coming months.
“I think most people are solvent at the moment, but this will turn ugly even if there is no change in our position relative to the public health order,” Mayor Eric Mamula said at the meeting. “Even if things continue as is, this could get pretty dark if — December, January, February — nobody can allow more people in their businesses. We still don’t know what the ski area is going to be doing, so the council needs to think about how much money would we make available for a second round of stimulus for rent relief at the end of this year.”
Council member Gary Gallagher said council shouldn’t focus on incremental aid but should look further down the road as the potential for a rollback of the reopening process is possible.
Council member Kelly Owens said she thinks there will be a lot of people who need assistance this fall and winter, bringing up that parents might not be able to work as much as they typically would because of child care issues with quarantining children or potential day care shutdowns.
“We’re going to need to do some really tough planning, I think, with multiple scenarios,” council member Dick Carleton said. “When we’re thinking (about) relief programs … if the scenario comes to fruition that we’re closed for the first quarter of the calendar year, we’re going to have a lot of work to do.”
Carleton reminded the council that a winter shutdown could be extremely detrimental on the town’s sales tax revenue as well as local businesses. Town Manager Rick Holman said the council might have to make decisions about dipping into reserves and what to prioritize.
The following day, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz put out a letter to “communities, guests and employees” regarding the coming winter. Katz wrote that the company is optimistic it will be able to have a safe ski season but cautioned against complacency.
He asked for residents’ and visitors’ compliance with restrictions and protocols to help contain the spread of the virus as visitors from other cities and towns come to the resorts throughout the season. He said compliance must start now, ahead of ski season, and would help protect the economies and residents of mountain communities.
Katz also wrote that “safety is not optional” when it comes to the use of facial coverings and physical distancing.
“We need to accept that this will likely be the reality for the full season,” Katz wrote.
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