Updated: April 14, 2020
I’m writing to update our clients and potential clients regarding our values, policies, and suggestions surrounding the current coronavirus situation. This pandemic has impacted our world abruptly and unexpectedly in many ways. While Montana is doing better than expected in terms of infections and hospitalizations (https://nbcmontana.com/news/local/data-website-shows-montana-stay-at-home-measures-are-working), we are not isolated from this serious public health threat. And neither are non-essential businesses of all kinds throughout Montana, Wyoming, the United States, and globally. Like restaurants and bars, the outdoor industry has been dramatically affected by this pandemic, both directly and indirectly. The financial implications are potentially devastating for many small businesses and individuals.
Greater Yellowstone Flyfishing Outfitters takes this situation very seriously. First and foremost is the safety and well-being of our clients, staff, guides, and their families, as well as front-line health care workers. We are doing our part by following health guidelines from the CDC, WHO, NIAID, federal, state, and local agencies, as well as reputable national, state, and local health institutions.
I have personally been contacting our 2020 clients to check in on their health and safety, gauge their sense of the situation, and collaborating to formulate plans for the upcoming season. We have canceled all of our trips in March and April due to closures, restrictions, and health concerns. All of our early season clients have expressed a strong desire to reschedule their trips as soon as possible. We are hopeful that we will be able to conduct our services in mid to late May or June at the latest. For clients who have booked trips in June and later, most are planning on coming, however, the consensus is taking an approach of waiting to see how things develop.
In Montana and Wyoming, the guiding industry has been effectively shut down temporarily due to these two restrictions:
Closure of non-essentials businesses
Governors of both states asking non-residents not to travel to either state and, if they do, to self-quarantine for 14 days
As long as these measures remain in place, all guided trips in Montana and Wyoming are delayed indefinitely. And while outdoor recreation is allowed in both states, commercial guiding is prohibited in Montana. Commercial guiding is currently allowed in Wyoming, but only for Wyoming residents. Montana has postponed its non-resident spring turkey and black bear hunting seasons. Idaho has temporarily banned the sale of non-resident hunting and fishing licenses. Wyoming has temporarily banned the sale of non-resident daily and five-day fishing licenses to discourage travel into the state. All of the above restrictions will continue long as both governor’s orders remain in place, likely through the end of April.
In light of these restrictions, we will know more in late April when current orders are re-evaluated. Until then, we must remain patient and positive. By the end of April, we should have a better idea if we’ll be able to operate at some point in May or if we’ll have to wait longer.
To further address questions and concerns, please review our revised COVID-19 Policies, Procedures, and Suggestions.
Current data suggests that social distancing and stay-at-home orders are working to flatten the curve (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html ). As Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has stated, now is not the time to relax these measures. Sacrificing our daily routines and even our finances this spring for the nation’s long-term safety and economy is paramount.
While new hot spots are emerging nationally, current data suggest that new infections are slowing throughout the country, and peak infections have already occurred in many places or will occur in late April to early May in other areas. Some national models project a steep decline in infections throughout May, bottoming out by June. However, even the world’s foremost health and infectious disease experts caution that these models are highly subjective and unreliable. Experts’ knowledge of the virus is continually evolving and changing along with the situation.
While there is debate as to whether the virus will subside during the summer months, we remain hopeful it will, similar to other coronavirus strains, buying the world precious time for scientists and researchers to develop treatments, improved testing protocols, and, ultimately, a vaccine.
“Re-opening” our country and economy are essential, but it must take place slowly and safely. We can not simply go back to life as usual on May 1 and allow flare-ups and clustering of the virus. Definitive national, state and local plans and policies are a must to slowly ease restrictions allowing businesses to resume and people to get back to work. Testing, isolating, and contact tracing procedures must be in place to safely return some semblance of normalcy in our lives. The most realistic scenario will be to take a “rolling” approach to ease restrictions rather than lifting restrictions nationally on May 1. State and local agencies should work together to formulate plans based on science, safety, and relevancy of the situation in their area while also considering the potential risks of allowing out-of-area travel and mingling.
We greatly value your patience, understanding, and support during these challenging times. Our business has been built and sustained over 27 years by our loyal clients, with whom we have developed close friendships and lasting relationships. In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy. We look forward to enjoying many great adventures with you as soon as possible!
Greater Yellowstone Flyfishing Outfitters