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Pitkin County, Colorado—home to Aspen—will require visitors to sign an affidavit attesting that they've received a negative Covid-19 result recently or will quarantine locally until they can obtain one.
A prominent ski county in Colorado will begin requiring visitors to sign an affidavit that they’ve tested negative for Covid-19 within the past three days or will quarantine locally for 10 days after arriving.
Pitkin County, home to Aspen and its four ski areas, last week implemented the measure, which also gives tourists the option to take a test when they get to town during their initial quarantine. Officials said the requirement, which is stricter than what’s mandated by the state and expected to be enforced starting Dec. 14, is necessary to limit the spread of the virus, which has increased locally in recent weeks.
“Pitkin County has made progress to slow the spread of Covid-19 and keep our businesses and resorts open,” the county said on its website. “Our entire community, including our visitors, have a responsibility to help us keep transmission levels as low as possible and our community open.”
The affidavit, available on the county’s website, requires visitors to confirm that they’ve received a negative Covid-19 test and have been symptom-free for 10 days prior to travel, as well as that they have reviewed and understand the community’s active public health guidelines, including mask requirements. Visitors are defined as people who reside outside Pitkin, Eagle or Garfield counties and will be staying for at least one night, with exceptions for people who commute for work or school, patients seeking medical treatment, military personnel and anyone under the age of 10.
A handful of states, including Maine and Massachusetts, require similar travel affidavits. Colorado doesn’t, though the Pitkin County Board of Health in September asked Gov. Jared Polis to consider establishing a similar statewide policy.
Pitkin County’s requirement will be the first at the county level, which will pose some logistical challenges—notably, making sure that visitors are aware of the policy before they arrive, said County Manager Jon Peacock.
“It’s going to take an extra push in partnership with all of our partners to make sure guests are aware of these requirements, hopefully before they come but if not, at least after they get here,” he said at a Dec. 1 joint meeting of the Aspen City Council and the county board of commissioners.
Peacock said the county was working with airlines and area ski lodges to “provide information and help us market this requirement” to guests ahead of their visits. Resorts will review at check-in whether guests have completed the affidavit, he said, and the county was also hoping to install signage at the airport.
Guests who violate the policy could be subject to a $5,000 fine or jail time, with enforcement provided by public health officials rather than employees at hotels and ski resorts, Peacock said.
“We’re really going for voluntary compliance first,” he said. If that doesn’t work, the county could move to “spot-checking...or random sampling to request test results,” he said.
Enforcement will likely be difficult, he added. The affidavit does not require proof of the negative test result or details about where it was administered, and the policy as a whole relies heavily on individual compliance.
“Frankly, we’re not going to catch everyone,” he said. “It is not a perfect net, but it’s a better net than none.”
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.
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