Everything is far from back to normal, but with Yellowstone National Park opening its doors at noon Monday, Cody is ensured some sort of summer tourist season.
It’s still a question as to how many people, many coming from areas of the country far more affected by COVID-19, will flock to the park this week. But as the East Entrance is one of only two open and with Teton County having had many more cases, we can expect that a large number of tourists who do flock to the Park will not just pass through Cody, but stay here.
For our businesses reliant on the tourist industry and the town in general, this is a vital step. Many of the downtown retail stores and restaurants need the surge of summer traffic to make ends meet. Fishing guides, rafting companies and tour companies simply require visitors, and hotels are desperate for more guests.
Beyond that, tourists provide a key piece of government budgets in the form of sales taxes.
We’re glad to be able to move forward, but we also want to make sure we take a firm step and don’t have to step back due to a large spike in coronavirus cases.
Gov. Mark Gordon, in a Wednesday press conference announcing a further loosening of restrictions shortly after the announcement of Yellowstone and Grand Teton’s openings, said while he was happy to have the news, he was also very anxious.
He said reopening the parks would certainly add more risk for people visiting around the two top tourist destinations. Because of that the state government is emphasizing support of Park and Teton counties and ensuring businesses have the tools they need, such as masks, to stay safe.
So let’s do our part as well. Let’s enjoy this new easing of restrictions and welcome tourists coming to Yellowstone. And let’s make sure we do it safely to avoid having to take a step back.