Ex-Florida official defends Colorado ski closure complaint

Coronavirus

Skiers keep their distance from each other as they load the Breckenridge Ski Resort gondola in Breckenridge, Colo., Saturday, March 14, 2020. Signs with public health guidelines about social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19 were posted around the resort, and later in the day, Vail Resorts announced it would close all of its ski areas in North America through March 22, including Breckenridge and Keystone Resort in Summit County. (Liz Copan/Summit Daily News via AP)

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s governor and a state lawmaker criticized a former Florida lieutenant governor who complained that his vacation was ruined when Vail closed its ski resort due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp tweeted his displeasure Saturday after industry giants Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company said they would close dozens of North America’s most well-known resorts, including the iconic Vail resort in Colorado.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also ordered the state’s downhill resorts to close for a week to mitigate the virus’s spread.

“Thank you for making this announcement as we are driving into Vail,” Kottkamp tweeted after Vail announced its closure. “Came all the way from Florida only to have our family’s vacation destroyed.”

The Denver Post reports that Polis and Democratic state Sen. Kerry Donovan were quick to react.

“Thank you for your deep concerns regarding the health of our residents in the face of a global pandemic, as well as your heartfelt sympathy for the difficulties faced by those who work in the ski industry and hospitality,” Polis said.

Donovan, whose district includes Vail, said, “We should be commending (Vail’s decision), not complaining. But, please keep thinking of yourself.”

Sage Naumann, a spokesman for Colorado Senate Republicans, joined in Sunday.

“‘Came all the way from Florida only to realize Colorado is actually stepping up to prevent the spread of a global pandemic,’” Naumann tweeted. “Fixed it for you, Lieutenant Governor. Colorado is united in beating this.”

Kottkamp said Sunday he had “no quarrel” with Vail’s decision. But he criticized the resort for insisting it was open for business until it suddenly announced otherwise — something he said was “very unfair to thousands of visitors to the state.”

Had Vail Resorts given advance notice “before their closure, as was done by Disney World and Universal Studios in my home state, lots of heartaches, inconvenience, and financial loss could have been avoided,” Kottkamp said in an email to The Associated Press.

Kottkamp, an attorney, was the lieutenant governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011. The Republican also served in that state’s House of Representatives.

Polis banned public gatherings of more than 250 people and taken other measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has deemed a pandemic.

The disease for most people causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness. The vast majority recover.

In the U.S., at least 61 people have died, including one in Colorado.

Other regional ski resorts suspended operations Sunday, including Alta and Snowbird in Utah and Big Sky in Montana. Wyoming’s Jackson Hole closed for the day and promised further guidance to visitors.

Powder Mountain in Utah limited visitors to 1,000 per day and said it was taking other measures, including not grouping strangers on its chairlifts.

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