Colorado tourism office launches safety campaign amid virus

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DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Tourism Office has launched a campaign urging people to practice safety measures and follow health guidelines when visiting the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

Visitors are urged to keep their distance from each other and wear masks, in addition to normal guidelines asking people to stick to trails, respect wildlife and pick up after pets, The Denver Post reported.

“We want to continue to make sure that the health and safety of both residents and visitors are the highest priority,” office spokeswoman Abby Leeper said.

The office is working with the state health department on protocols and guidelines for businesses, communities and visitors to include in its “Care for Coloradans” campaign, Leeper said. The campaign also includes a new brochure and animated videos advising people how to dress for the weather and different altitudes and other helpful recommendations.

The state previously discouraged any travelers from visiting the mountains because of concerns that smaller communities would not be able to respond to any outbreaks.

“After the great sacrifices that have been made to protect our state, it’s vitally important to set clear expectations so we can maintain all the gains that have been made and stay on course to reopen Colorado’s tourism economy,” Director Cathy Ritter said.

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order June 1 on the transition from the statewide stay-at-home order to safer at home “or in the great outdoors.” The office welcomed the order as more people are now expected to spend more time outside.

Some local business owners say things are already starting to pick up.

People are calling to see if places are open for business, said Chris Romer, CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, a business association.

“They’ll ask ‘Is there anything for my family to do?’ and the answer here and in many locations around the state is yes,” Romer said.

There’s fly fishing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking and swimming, Romer said, but many large events, such as music festivals, a staple in the mountains in the summer, have been canceled or postponed.

“Visitors want to have things to do and they want to be able to enjoy the amenities in the area,” Visit Estes Park CEO Eric Lund said. “And it’s important that at the same time we keep people healthy and are respectful of being responsible to our local community.”

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