As the coronavirus outbreak continues, one mountain county is taking some additional precautions to limit the spread of the virus by enforcing a “locals-only” policy.

San Juan County Sheriff Bruce Conrad announced on Saturday that a locals-only policy was implemented, “prohibiting all but essential services, HWY 550 drive through traffic, and San Juan County residents only.”

Home to Silverton, county officials are also asking residents to limit travel around town and beyond to “obtaining necessities and solo or small party exercise outings.” While Highway 550 will remain open, only drive through-traffic and San Juan County residents will be allowed.

“These are not extreme measures in these extraordinary times, and we are not the first community to enact them. It is not a cavalier decision made without regard for our economy or for the well-being of our citizens. It is in fact, our well-being at stake here,” Conrad wrote in the statement published to the Silverton Community Bulletin Board.

The statement also addresses non-residents in the backcountry. In an effort to decrease the need for emergency and medical team response, all vehicles parked on mountain passes and all county roads not registered in San Juan County will be subject to fines and towing.

When questioned about a potential lockdown on Facebook, Conrad replied, “We are not limiting San Juan County residence from traveling to work, although we are discouraging it at this point. Making a living is a necessity. If it can be done remotely, that is a wiser course at this time.”

Meanwhile, residents of San Miguel County have been ordered to ‘shelter in place‘ or face fines of up to $5,000 and up to 18 months in jail.

Many of the mountain towns have made similar moves as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state increases, shutting down dine-in service restaurants, some transit, lodging, as well as non-essential businesses and personal services. Public gatherings have also been limited to 10 people or less in some spots.

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