You might have seen the posters and stickers announcing businesses are part of the San Juan Strong Promise. The Promise is a pledge by businesses to do all they can to keep transmission of the Corona virus to a minimum as the nation continues its struggle against the outbreak.
San Juan County businesses involved in services to the tourism industry have been among the hardest hit in the pocketbook due to the disappearance of international and out of area domestic visitors. Hotels, gift shops and more have felt the impact.
Some of the more diligent in San Juan County deserve mention for their fight to keep their businesses open.
One of the standouts with the San Juan Strong Promise is Jackalope Trading Company in Monticello, owners Mindy and Adam Redd got on board early. Tourism and travelers are the bulk of their customers. Letting people know they had a safe option for shopping in Monticello was important. Mindy made sure their web presence was maintained and pushed out online ordering. She was also the catalyst for the entire campaign due to an initiative she and the Bayles family of Bear Skins Custom Ink teamed up on to help businesses affected by the pandemic.
In the north county the manager of Hole ‘N the Rock was one of the first on board. The attraction provides sanitizer at the entrance to the store and requires face masks to enter. The manager's concerns came out of the safety of a loved one who has compromised health due to medical conditions. When contacted to join in the San Juan Strong Promise, Hole ‘N the Rock was quick to sign up. They had already instituted all of the protocols and letting more customers know they would be safe on a visit couldn’t hurt business.
Susie Peebles and her staff at the Wagon Wheel Pizza in Monticello have been masked up since reopening in May. Stacey Steele of the Wagon Wheel conservatively estimated that the pizza parlor is feeding 350 people a week, wearing masks and keeping the San Juan Promise. Susie checks staff temperatures with a digital no touch thermometer at the beginning of each work day.
PJ’s of Monticello was also an early pledge to the San Juan Strong Promise. Management and staff had already started their own protocols before the promise was created. The collateral signage and stickers that came as part of the outreach program allowed PJ's to announce to visitors that they were on board in the county effort to contain COVID-19. And PPE provided as a result of taking the pledge allowed for them to be able to provide disposable masks for customers who might have arrived without one.
Blanding’s Homestead Steak House was serious about working around COVID-19. Manager Katie Shumway and owner Sharon Guymon brainstormed ways to keep their employees safe and employed. Katie’s background in public health was enough to make being proactive an instinct with her. Instituting temperature checks with employees on arrival to work and believing in the effectiveness of facemasks, Katy has kept the restaurant humming along.
Sylvia Czerkas, Director of the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding is also a pledge to the San Juan Strong Promise. Although working through a shortened season and limited hours, over 1,500 visitors passed safely through the museum this year. “None of our workers contracted the virus from working at the museum. We all wore masks, and all of our visitors wore masks.” She reported.
On to Bluff and the south county. Front desk service at La Posada Pintada has been done from behind a mask since the earliest days of the pandemic. Owner Jenn Davilla and her staff were part of the promise from its inception and recognized that safety for themselves and their guests was an important part of staying open or maintaining staff to perform the many chores that their lodgings require. Jenn also helped get collateral out, in the form of posters announcing the pledge to visitors and disposable face masks, to others in the Bluff business community.
Twin Rocks and Crazy Crow Cafe manager Frances van der Steppen reports that the climate down in those lower latitudes remains pretty friendly. Speculating that proximity to the reservation and that culture’s early battles with the outbreak or guests from harder hit areas, whatever the reason, Frances says customers have actually been thanking her staff for the diligence they have provided in keeping the promise. Twin Rocks has been providing masks for those who may have forgotten theirs, distancing dine in parties 10 feet or more apart and limiting group seatings to 6 or less.
Van der Steppen says the cooler weather has caused Twin Rocks to make seasonal changes following a summer of dining on the outside patios. Through the summer offering guests custom creations in their Crazy Crow serving line, patrons could amble up to the serving line and direct their server in assembling the perfect Navajo Taco then take it outside on the veranda. Many people chose to eat in the safe bubble of their car. Those options still remain but the dining room has reopened.
Most of the businesses participating have been able to maintain a COVID-19 free workforce. The businesses that did have cases of COVID-19 were able to take advantage of tenets of the San Juan Strong Promise in order not to require quarantine of their workforce. These businesses had the protocols in place to limit spread to co-workers or customers, and remain fully open and operational while diagnosed employees quarantined at home.
All businesses joining the San Juan Strong Promise are also automatically enrolled in the State of Utah’s Stay Safe to Stay Open initiative. This provides pledged businesses with statewide promotion. Additionally, businesses receive access to multiple resources including masks, posters, floor decals, window clings, and more.
The collaborative efforts of San Juan County Public Health and San Juan County Economic Development and Visitor Services-Utah’s Canyon Country invites you as a San Juan County business owner to consider joining the 60 other businesses participating countywide. To join visit: www.utahscanyoncountry.com/sanjuanstrong