The Southeast Utah Health Department (SEUHD) has issued a new Public Health Order, the sternest measure yet, designed to keep visitors from flooding the town of Moab during the coronavirus crisis. The Order’s specifics affect climbers and other recreationists directly: In Grand, Carbon and Emery counties, camping is prohibited (even on private property) and hotels are closed. Rentals through services like Vrbo and Airbnb have also been prohibited for the time being.
This means that climbers are no longer allowed to pitch their tents in popular campgrounds in Castle Valley and below the Fisher Towers, among others.
The measure is the latest effort to prevent a slew of coronavirus cases that could overwhelm the municipality’s medical system should the virus spread among the community.
In the text of the Order, Brady Bradford, Health Director at SEUHD, requested “that visitors that are not here on essential business return to their home and non-essential visitors planning to come to Carbon, Emery, and Grand counties reconsider their plans and remain near their home.”
While climbers might think they are staying far enough away by visiting Indian Creek or the National Parks, the local authorities are, in so many words, asking them to postpone any such climbing plans for the forseeable future. By banning camping—which most climbers rely on to climb the surrounding walls, as day-trips from areas beyond Moab are difficult—the authorities are trying to keep climbers away.
It is incumbent on all climbers to follow these requests: combatting the spread of the coronavirus, “flattening the curve” to allow our healthcare system to treat those in need as effectively as possible, requires that everyone play his or her part.