Council hears update regarding town’s response during COVID-19 pandemic

By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

At a regular meeting on May 21, another update was provided to the Pagosa Springs Town Council on what the town is doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In regard to a proposed variance request from small business owners that would allow Archuleta County to vary from the state’s public health orders that council heard a presentation on at a special meeting on May 13, Town Manager Andrea Phillips explained that the variance has been submitted to San Juan Basin Public Health for review.

The variance pertains to businesses that are not yet open or were not open yet as of May 13 due to public health orders -— including but not limited to restaurants, gyms, pools, spas and RV parks — being able to reopen.

A letter of support is also required from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and that has also been requested, Phillips explained.

The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners, as soon as they get the necessary materials, will discuss a possible action to approve the variance request and send it to the state, she added later.

“It is possible that the governor’s orders may allow for reopening for the very businesses that are within the variance request sooner than the variance request can go through all of the different channels and be approved,” she said. “It does provide a lot of good information in the plan.”

As of the May 21 meeting, there were still eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 within Archuleta County, Phillips explained, adding that the number has not changed for “several weeks.”

“We’re just encouraging businesses to be aware of the different guidelines, trying to encourage folks to wear face coverings when they’re coming in,” she said.

In regard to enforcing public health orders, Phillips explained that the town is looking to educate people.

“We’re not trying to write citations and arrest people and be heavy-handed with it,” she said.

Town operations
and updates

Town Hall is currently under phase one of the town’s phased operations plan and has been since May 11, Phillips explained.

“It seems to be going really well. We’re still encouraging social distancing. We’ve got sanitation measures in place,” Phillips described.

For both the Visitor Center and Ross Aragon Community Center, a tentative reopening date could be June 1, Phillips explained.

“It’s not going to be going back to how it was pre-COVID. We’re still going to have to put some restrictions in place,” she said.

 The Kickin’ It During Summer (K.I.D.S.) Camp has been canceled, but the town is hoping to do some shortened recreation programs for kids later in the summer when the town is able to, Phillips explained.

Recreation programs have been suspended until Aug. 1, Phillips explained.

On May 5, town council ratified and extended its Declaration of a Local Disaster Emergency until June 2, she added later.

The town is planning on having a Fourth of July parade and fireworks, but Phillips noted that there is a possibility that at least the parade could be canceled or suspended.

“We’re one of the few communities in this area that hasn’t already come out and canceled it,” she said. “I’m hoping to delay making that decision as long as we can, but we’ll see if we’re going to be allowed to do that or not.”

 

 

This story was posted on May 28, 2020.