“Every decision we are making right now is 180 degrees from the decisions we have been making for the last 10 or 15 years to improve our economic standing, but is sadly necessary at this time,” Chaffee County Commissioner Rusty Granzella said Wednesday.
Granzella was responding to a question about the order to close all hotels, motels and other similar establishments in the county to leisure purposes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The same order directs all visitors to the county to return home and warns anyone considering a visit to stay home.
“This is totally against my way of thinking when it comes to working on our economy,” Granzella said. “Everyone is feeling the effects of this right now.”
The lodging industry is not the only industry being affected, as Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday that all restaurants and bars in the state were closed to dine-in service and could only serve on a takeout and delivery basis.
The governor also announced Wednesday that closure of state ski resorts is being extended to April 6.
Commissioner Greg Felt, who has been working in the tourist industry through fishing and rafting since 1985, said he was “acutely aware” of the impact.
“It’s painful to tell people who have been visiting here for years that they can’t come right now,” Felt said. “In the short term, our economic and public health plans are at total odds with one another, but this is necessary. I know it’s a bitter pill we are asking everyone to swallow, and I want to thank everyone for bearing with us at this time. I’m hoping that soon we can turn our focus to getting to a place where we can work on improving our economic situation.”
Commissioner Keith Baker said he believes the county must put the health and safety of residents ahead of economic concerns right now.
Baker said he has been talking with state officials already to see what kind of help the county will be able to get economically.
“This needs to be a grassroots deal,” Baker said. “They can’t go to Wall Street with this, it won’t trickle down. We need to work to get help to our workers here. We are not unique. A lot of counties are shutting down, and we, at least, are remaining open to travelers and people who need essential services.”
Dave Blazer, chairman of Chaffee County Economic Development Corp., said they believe the county has made the right decision.
“From the Economic Development Corp.’s perspective, we need to make sure the community is safe,” Blazer said. “We believe that county leadership has made the right call. Overall, I think the impact is already going to be extensive. It is going to be painful in the short term, but we hope for a quick recovery.”