Dear Ogden-Area Locals,
First things first. If you haven’t washed your hands in the last hour, go do that right now, then come back and continue reading…
This isn’t another blog about COVID-19 symptoms, spread, treatment or testing protocols. There seems to be an abundance of such information readily available wherever one turns, including here on this site…you know, just in case you’re not seeing the constant barrage of information on your favorite online, print, or broadcast news outlets, or if the algorithm of your preferred social media channels has completely failed.
As the entity responsible for promoting travel and tourism in Weber County, Visit Ogden has a seat at the table and a place on the email lists of countless community municipalities, businesses, restaurants, attractions, venues, resorts, non-profits, boards, and event production organizations. In short, we have our finger on the pulse of an economic sector that accounts for at least 10% of Weber County’s overall economy, and over 12% of its public sector jobs: travel and tourism.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 strain of the Coronavirus, we’ve heard it suggested that communities face the choice between a healthy population and a healthy economy. Rest assured that when faced with such a choice, we will choose a healthy population every single time. Because without a healthy population, a healthy economy is complete fantasy.
We understand that one of the most significant aspects of physical health is the financial ability to tend to it. We have watched international travel all but cease, and even domestic travel plummet in response to this outbreak. We are fully aware of how this outbreak is affecting local businesses and how their employees are feeling the immediate financial effects.
Every bone in our bodies is desperate to help our independently owned businesses in the way we have always believed best: encouraging visitation and patronage. The initial draft of this letter attempted to do so while stressing appropriate caution such as frequent and deliberate hand washing, self-quarantining when symptomatic or after having been exposed to someone who is, and avoiding close contact with susceptible populations such as the elderly and/or immunocompromised.
However, as each day has brought increased understanding of this pandemic, we have edited this letter to err even more on the side of public health and safety. We all want to feel like we're doing something...anything...to help right here, right now. Helping is in our blood. It *feels* like frequenting our community's independently owned restaurants, shops, galleries, and bars is a small way to support our neighbors who own these establishments. Behaving normally *seems* like the best way to help the servers, baristas, bartenders, musicians and artists who make our local businesses run, and who rely on the generosity of our purchases and tips for their livelihood.
By order of Utah’s Governor, Gary Herbert, those options are officially off the table beginning at midnight on Wednesday, March 18th…at least dine-in restaurant and bar visitation. It seems inevitable that galleries and shops and other “non-essential” businesses will likely follow soon if we hope to control the spread of COVID-19.
We ask you to please suspend many of your ideas of what "normal" is in what are very abnormal times. For the time being, we encourage anyone who is able to support the small business owners who make this such an amazing place to live, work and play by purchasing a few gift cards to your favorite restaurant or shop that can be redeemed at a later date.
Take advantage of online or call-ahead ordering, cashless payment, and curbside delivery at your favorite locally owned restaurant and tip your delivery server as abundantly as you can. A daily updated list of independently owned establishments can be found here.
Jump online and purchase a CD, digital download, or some merch from your favorite local musicians. Email a photo to your favorite Ogden-area visual artist and commission a piece that they can work on over the next few weeks. Toss our creative community a bit of money via Venmo as they continue to share their talents in cramped home studios via cell phone cameras on social media. Those small infusions of money now could make all the difference in how the vibrancy of our community rebounds.
Check on your barista and server friends who may be in need of financial assistance and do what you can to help them. Reach out to your elderly neighbors and offer to help with basic shopping. Talk to younger generations who are navigating fear and uncertainty and, whenever possible, assure one another that we're going to get through this together...just not side by side for a bit.
For now, do your best to safely maintain the aspects of “normality” that define our community. Walk our historic neighborhoods, hike or bike our abundant trails, turn the soil of your flowerbeds and vegetable gardens in preparation for Spring planting…then return to your home with flowing, clean water and wash your hands again.