Coronavirus campgrounds

[Photo by Maggie McGuire / Moab Sun News]

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Easter weekend is usually popular with travelers and tourists coming to southern Utah, but this year local authorities are sending a strong message: stay away and stay home. 

"At this time non-residents should not be engaged in leisure travel to our county," a Grand County Sheriff's Office release reads

The Grand County COVID-19 Taskforce addressed the issue in a Facebook post, saying "We know the public is frustrated with what seems to be an increase in out of state visitation to Moab," and outlining ways the department is trying to enforce bans on camping and overnight accommodations for non-residents. 

"This pandemic is not a vacation," a later post from the Grand County Sheriff's Office reads

The office's weekend efforts include increase patrols near popular visitor camping areas and airing public service announcements on local radio stations. 

The Moab Area Travel Council is also taking a hard stand for the holiday weekend, removing lodging links from their website and reminding property owners that if someone is caught defying the order they will receive a citation and a mandatory court appearance.

"These are just a few of the efforts underway," the Taskforce reported. 

The Southeast Utah Health Department issued suggestions on how to celebrate the Easter holiday without breaking public health orders and encouraging families to stay home. 

San Juan County

Neighboring San Juan County had a similar message to those thinking of holiday travel.

"Our local infrastructure is not equipped for an influx of visitors," a statement from the county read, noting that "local businesses are struggling to provide necessities to our residents while faced with the added burden of providing for visitors."

The San Juan County Health Department is prohibiting non-residents from camping or recreation in the county, including San Juan County property owners who do not live in the county full time. 

Statewide

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced that all travelers coming into the state via air or popular roadways are expected to fill out a short survey on their health status to be sent to the Utah Department of Health. 

In an effort to curb tourism to the area and slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Utah's National Parks including Arches, Canyonlands and Zion have largely closed