Romer: COVID is the enemy |

Romer: COVID is the enemy

As we continue to face operating restrictions and the lingering threat of moving to red on the state dial, we need to remember that we are all worried about the impacts the virus has had on us to-date and in the future. Our best chance of minimizing the negative impacts of COVID-19 are to work together, be mindful of what we are saying and doing, and do our best to not exacerbate the fear that sometimes polarizes us.

It is natural to look for an enemy, often resulting in human nature pitting us against each other. But we’re not the enemy. COVID is the enemy. Government and industry and our community must remain at the table as partners, not as adversaries, as we continue to push through COVID-19 impacts and regulatory restrictions.

Easier said than done, to be sure. We all need to be better at not automatically assigning evil intent to people we disagree with. Not every debate is an epic battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Sometimes sincere people who want the best just disagree on how to get there.

Empathy is a better baseline for influence. Our leaders — in government, nonprofit, business, special districts — universally have good intent. It is healthy to disagree and our community has done a fantastic job of focusing on the fact that COVID is the enemy. We need to remain focused on this as we move forward.

How exactly do we move forward? We must continue to focus on safety and stopping the spread. The case for safety is evident by numerous recent reports and consumer studies. As we approach the holiday season, we know that travel has and will continue to happen: 77.6% of American travelers took at least one trip in 2020. Since the pandemic began in March, 20.7% have traveled by air, and 51.8% have at least one road trip.

Some key trends as we forecast our winter tourism business: Americans’ destination hot list is looking quite close to pre-pandemic times, with Colorado ranking near the top of vacation destinations. As many as 80% of American travelers say they have at least tentative trip plans in the months ahead.

Anxieties about personally contracting the virus, or loved ones getting it, and the pandemic’s impact on personal and national economics are in an elevated but stable period. American travelers agree with more restrictive rules in their home community and that it’s important to follow government-mandated restrictions to control COVID-19. The institution of COVID-related state restrictions make some Americans feel more comfortable visiting that state.

Rules and safety procedures give consumers confidence they will be protected from the coronavirus. The most common suggestions included social distancing in lift lines, cleaning and sanitizing bathrooms, lodges, lifts and gondolas and mask wearing (covering the nose and mouth). Some said having a zero-tolerance policy and not being afraid to enforce the rules should be encouraged. Vail Resorts, local governments, and the vast majority of businesses should be commended for their efforts.

Lastly, there are signs of hope regarding future travel. Over half of Americans are more optimistic about life returning to normal and that they can travel safely in the next six months as a result of recent news about vaccine developments.

We all share the same concerns about the economic impacts facing our businesses and vulnerable community members. We must remember that COVID-19 is the enemy and we must redouble our efforts to decrease the level of disease spread in our community by following safety standards and working together to reduce the spread.

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