SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah could join six other states in lifting statewide mask mandates. However, the bill to do this still awaits Governor Spencer Cox’s approval.
House Bill 294 would put an end to COVID-19 health restrictions and limit the powers of public health order.
If signed by Gov. Cox, the statewide mask mandate will end April 10th.
“What the legislature tried to do is give people something to look forward to. Give them something they can mentally look at and feel like hopefully there was some end in sight,” said Utah Department of Health spokesperson Tom Hudachko.
But there’s some strings attached to this bill, Hudachko said.
“Masks will still be required in K-12 school settings. They can still be required in gatherings of 50 or more people; businesses can still choose to require their patrons to wear masks and individuals themselves can obviously choose on their own to wear a mask,” he said.
The bill would also declare Utah’s pandemic and its restrictions over – either on July first or when the state reaches a 14-day case rate of fewer than 191 per 100,000 people, the seven-day average of intensive care unit capacity falls below 15%, or when the state has allocated at least 1.6 million doses of the vaccine.
Hudachko said the health department was involved in negotiation of the bill.
“We’re comfortable with whatever the governor decides what he ultimately wants to do with the bill,” he said.
Texas ended its statewide mask mandate today. KSAT reports if COVID-19 hospitalizations make up more than 15% of all hospitalizations – in a region – for seven days in a row, there’s the possibility local businesses may be required to cut their capacity by up to 50%.
ABC4 News asked Hudachko what happens if Utah takes a step backward in its recovery plan?
“I think we’d have to look at the particular situation was and where we were in the course of the outbreak. It’s hard to figure out what you’re going to do with a hypothetical if you’re not actually in the situation,” he said.
While no set plan is in place for pandemic relapse, Hudachko said state and public health officials would readdress the situation and make changes as needed.
As of Wednesday, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota and Texas have removed the requirement to wear masks in public, according to AARP. Wyoming’s mandate will be removed Tuesday.