The bill, dubbed the “COVID-19 endgame,” lifts restrictions on gathering size and social distancing that were mandated by the Utah Department of Health. He previously ended the statewide mask mandate.
According to the Utah Department of Health, the state passed a key benchmark on Tuesday afternoon: more than 1.63 million primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine assigned. Utah has received 1.65 million doses now. Previously, the state had cleared bill thresholds for COVID-specific case rates and ICU hospitalizations.
The bill means there will be no state-imposed limits on gatherings and social distancing. It also ends local orders that need it, such as in Salt Lake City and Grand County. However, there are some exceptions:
- Governor Spencer Cox has imposed a mask warrant for all state-owned facilities (including Capitol Hill, DABC stores, Driver’s License Division offices, etc.) until May 31. After that, each agency can decide if they want to continue with a mask requirement.
- A mask mandate remains in effect for all K-12 schools across Utah.
- Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson has imposed a mask warrant for all county-owned facilities.
- Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has imposed one for all city-owned facilities.
- The Utah Transit Authority has said it will require masks and social distancing on all of its buses and trains until the end of September.
- Private companies can still require masks and physical distancing from customers.
In an interview with FOX 13 on Tuesday, Governor Cox was happy to hear the news.
“We are going in the right direction. Again, that doesn’t mean the virus is gone. We therefore encourage people to continue to take the right security measures. If you are in large groups indoors, always be careful. If you are not fully vaccinated, wear a mask and protect yourself, ”he said. “But the message is, get vaccinated. The reason we put that number at 1.6 million is because we knew that would be enough to get vaccines, to get us as close as possible to herd immunity. This only works if you get the vaccine. “
The bill was introduced in the Legislature earlier this year with the aim of ending public health orders and “ending” the pandemic.. Governor Cox criticized the bill, but he signed it because he believed the legislature had the power to overthrow him and immediately end the mask mandate.
Instead, the governor negotiated the thresholds with lawmakers. The state has had a fairly high adoption rate for vaccines, although the pace has started to slow with more supply than demand now. In a recent briefing to a legislative committee, UDOH said it could be the end of summer before the state achieves “herd immunity.”
The bill allowed local governments to issue their own mask warrants. Only Grand County did, claiming that with millions of tourists and a 17-bed hospital in Moab, they can’t handle an epidemic. But under the new law, it will be terminated.
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