ST. GEORGE — SkyWest Airlines has joined a coalition of local business leaders to launch the “Safe Southern Utah” campaign in an effort to promote employee and consumer health while strengthening the region’s economy.
SkyWest spokesperson Marissa Snow said the company is committed to playing a key role in Southern Utah’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with enhanced safety protocols at the St. George Regional Airport to help protect staff and passengers and promote travel.
“From the beginning, St. George travelers have shown their confidence in the safety procedures that we have implemented,” she said.
Leading the initiative alongside SkyWest are the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office, Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center, Dixie State University, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department and others.
Businesses that join the Safe Southern Utah campaign commit to observing the following practices to help protect customers and employees:
- Ensure employees are wearing face masks and other personal protective equipment when needed.
- Observe social distancing, including spacing customers or clients according to state guidelines.
- Check employees daily for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Promote healthy hygiene, including frequent handwashing.
- Clean high-touch surfaces frequently.
“Businesses who take this pledge will receive a ‘Safe Southern Utah Badge’ and informational posters to display on their property as well as materials to inform customers about precautions that the business is taking to keep both employees and customers safe,” St. George Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Don Willie said in a press release. “This campaign helps us protect the public while moving our economy forward – it’s about building consumer confidence.”
Logan Phipps, managing director of safety for SkyWest, said that keeping passengers and employees healthy is the company’s top priority. SkyWest began tracking COVID-19 in January. As the virus spread to the United States, they worked quickly to implement new safety procedures in their aircraft and facilities across the 220 airports they serve, including St. George.
SkyWest provides passengers with hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and masks, Phipps said. Employees complete daily self-assessments to ensure they are healthy before reporting to work and travelers answer a health questionnaire prior to checking in for their flights.
Phipps said SkyWest continues to collaborate with major airline partners, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Federal Aviation Administration in a multilayered approach to ensure that they meet or exceed CDC recommendations to protect against the virus.
“This includes enhanced cleaning and sanitization, face-covering and social distancing requirements, daily self-assessments and all the other guidelines that are outlined by the Safe Southern Utah campaign,” he said. “We will continue to follow and promote these practices to help keep our employees, passengers and community safe.”
Snow said SkyWest is currently operating with a reduced schedule compared to 2019. However, flights into St. George have proven critical in providing transportation for medical personnel and other essential workers.
While air travel demand remains significantly lower than normal across the country, the St. George Regional Airport has recovered far better than the national average. According to SkyWest, national trends show Transportation Security Administration screening recovery at about 32% by September – whereas St. George bounced back to almost 80% during the same month.
Snow said this is due largely to consumer confidence in the enhanced safety procedures SkyWest has implemented.
“With all the safety measures that have been put in place, you could argue there’s never been a safer time to fly,” she said. “We also encourage all businesses in the Southern Utah area to get involved in the Safe Southern Utah campaign and take part in these efforts to keep each other healthy so that we can get this pandemic behind us.”
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