Letter to the editor: Vail and Summit have very different definitions of ‘resident’
Silverthorne and Minneapolis
The Vail public health board defined local residents as “those persons who own, maintain, or live in a home or residence in Eagle County” along with “persons living in areas contiguous to Eagle County where essential services and businesses are not readily available except in Eagle County.” Eagle limited short-term lodging to local residents, those with COVID-19 symptoms and “if necessary for an essential service or business or for emergency purposes or medical care.” An inclusive definition.
The Summit public health board initially closed all county lodging without considering how it would impact seasonal workers and subsequently proposed that “second homeowners cannot visit their homes unless it’s necessary for maintenance or other essential activities.” A strict definition of local resident.
Everyone acknowledges that mountain towns need to temporarily shut down tourism and discourage unnecessary travel into the area during the pandemic, but the towns differ on whom they represent.
Both counties have suffered from a high incidence of COVID-19, limited health care resources and hits to tourism-based economies. The economic impact to both towns may exceed the Great Recession of 2008. A Vail Resorts investor communication noted “once we are able to reopen, we assume weaker travel demand may continue, impacting our fourth fiscal quarter of 2020 and our first fiscal quarter of 2021.”
To rebound from the forthcoming financial tsunami, both counties will need the support of everyone in the community, which may include seasonal employees and second homeowners. While Summit leaders signaled they only accept responsibility for full-time permanent residents, the leaders of Eagle County made members of their broader definition of community feel represented during difficult times.
It will be interesting to see if the contrasting county leadership approaches result in different outcomes for resident health and economic recovery.
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