Mammoth Lakes Town Manager Dan Holler did a pretty good job of describing “between a rock and a hard place” at Wednesday’s Town Council meeting. To paraphrase, do you defy California’s COVID-19 guidelines for opening businesses or do you wait and wait for approval of the Emergency Operations Center’s plan to open lodging, with restrictions.

In the end, both Mono County Supervisors and the Town Council agreed, they had to slog it out and wait.

One of the suggestions if the California Public Office doesn’t respond soon is reminiscent of everyone’s childhood: “Well, you didn’t say I couldn’t.” The consequence of going rogue, however, is loss of State assistance funding.

Phase 3 of Governor Gavin Newsom’s roadmap to recovery seems to have left out consideration of a big avenue for both the Town and the County: tourism. Intrinsic to tourism is travel and, with the stay-at-home order still in place, nobody’s supposed to be traveling. But, people are and there’s no legal place to stay. It’s a mess.

The plan sitting in Sacramento sets the same parameters for unincorporated parts of the County and the town of Mammoth Lakes. The only difference: the plan would go into effect June 12 for unincorporated parts of the County and June 19 for Mammoth Lakes. The June 12 opening date was chosen “to allow sufficient time to evaluate the impact of the reopening Expanded Stage 2 sectors.” The additional week’s delay before Mammoth gets the go-ahead reasoning: “it represents 82-percent of Mono County’s hotels and lodging units.”

Restrictions would include all Expanded Stage 2 sectors and activities, strategic phased reopening of hotels and lodging, a mandatory 24-hour gap before a unit can be re-rented and a recommended 48-hour gap. The final parameter—no outbound marketing—raised some questions regarding websites.

The same child who says “you didn’t say I couldn’t,” would probably say “I didn’t send anything, I just posted it.”

Tom Parker, Mammoth Hospital’s chief executive officer, confirmed to the Board of Supervisors the hospital was equipped to handle its standard capacity, current COVID patients and a potential surge.

In addition to the outline to open lodging, the plan includes a list of eight variables that would trigger a roll-back on openings. The variables include increases in calls from symptomatic people to the nurse hotline, positive tests, severe cases and the inability of the County’s tracing team to contact 80-percent of those identified or evaluate 75-percent of case contacts within 24 hours. The final trigger covers positive cases in a school environment.

So, now we wait.


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