East West Partners will require either vaccines or masks, weekly tests
Company has about 1,500 employees in several states
The COVID-19 pandemic cost the state’s tourism business an estimated $9 billion in 2020. A local firm is working to limit possible future damages as a new variant of the virus is surging.
East West Partners is a company with corporate arms in the development, real estate and hospitality industries. The company recently informed its roughly 1,500 employees they would all have to either be vaccinated or wear masks at work and test weeky for for the virus as of Sept. 1. The company will require vaccinations for new employees starting work on or after Sept. 1.
In a message to employees, the company noted that the COVID-19 virus, particularly its delta variant, is bringing rapid change to public health. The spread of the delta variant “has us extremely concerned for the health and well-being of our employees and their families, as well as our guests and owners,” the message states.
With the resurgence of the virus, company officials “fear that more restrictive measures, such as social distancing and capacity restrictions,” may be on the horizon.
No restrictions — yet
That isn’t happening yet in Eagle County.
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There have been no new public health orders issued at the state or county levels so far.
Eagle County Public Health Director Heath Harmon said while cases are rising, hospitalizations remain low. But three COVID deaths reported were reported between July 31 and Aug. 6, bringing the toll to 26 local residents since the start of the pandemic.
Some companies are bringing back “recommendations” for patrons and employees to wear masks.
At East West, those who aren’t yet vaccinated before Sept. 1 are now “strongly encouraged” to wear masks in the workplace, and while on company business outside of East West offices and other locations.
“Nobody likes wearing a mask or getting tested (weekly), but that’s what you have to do,” East West Chairman and founding partner Harry Frampton said.
Frampton noted that a number of companies and organizations around the country are requiring vaccines for employees. East West will follow suit “in a second” if conditions worsen, Frampton said, adding that the company will evaluate conditions every week.
“We recognize there are some people who don’t like masks or vaccines, but the evidence is overwhelming that (those measures) work,” Frampton said.
Frampton noted that most Eagle County residents age 12 and older have received one dose of the vaccine — that’s 74% of the valley’s total population, according to Eagle County. That puts the Vail area in better shape than many other resorts in the country, he added.
At the moment, East West is the valley’s largest company or organization with a vaccine or mask/test policy.
No vaccine mandates — yet
In an email, Eagle County Schools Chief Communications Officer Matt Miano wrote that the district doesn’t have a vaccine mandate in place.
Vail Health spokeswoman Emily Tamberino emailed that facility is “considering” a vaccine mandate, but has not yet imposed one.
Vail Resorts spokesperson John Plack in an email wrote that company doesn’t have a vaccine mandate, either. Instead, he wrote, the company has “encouraged all of our teammates to get the vaccine by sharing information about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and resources to connect them to providers.”
Frampton said the policy has been “extremely well received” by employees.
“There have been a few (employee complaints), but there’s overwhelming support that we’re doing the right thing,” Frampton said.
Frampton added that it’s going to be “interesting” to see what policies other companies and organizations adopt.
And, he added, East West is going to do what it can to protect its own interests and the broader economy. While the new company rule has an option to being vaccinated, Frampton isn’t ruling out that possible next step.
“If we find it’s necessary to preserve the economy, we may have to do that,” he said.
East West Partners: A development company
Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate
East West Hospitality, which includes property management, vacation rentals and association management.