KANE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – The Kane County Commission in Southern Utah has taken to social media claiming residents of the county will not have to wear a mask after March 19.
A Facebook post by Kane County says the county will lift the mask mandate before April 10, the official date the mandate is set to end. But is that permissible during Utah’s statewide mask mandate?
According to House Bill 294, in the second week of April a partial statewide mask mandate will go into effect, but some government leaders are not too thrilled, instead urging communities to continue the original COVID-19 protocol.
Under the bill, businesses can – and should, according to Gov. Cox – require masks of workers and patrons, at least until the state gets 1.6 million doses of the COVID-19 available, which may not be until late May.
“Kane County Commission appreciates the patience of the citizens of Kane County as we’ve all worked hard to navigate the COVID Crisis,” states a post on its Facebook page. “We’ve recognized that a state-wide, one-size-fits-all approach isn’t suitable and has even been detrimental. We also recognize the need to protect our freedoms.”
According to the post, as of Friday, March 19, “masks are not required in Kane County.”
Despite the County not requiring masks, it states “we respect individual choice to wear them or not.”
“We trust the citizens and visitors of Kane County to measure risk and make decisions based on their own health and circumstances. We trust the business owners to take care of their customers with appropriate and reasonable health guidelines,” the post later shared.
According to the post from Kane County, community stakeholders including health care professionals, business owners, and county officials came up with the Above and Beyond initiative.
“This initiative was created to encourage good hygiene and safety behaviors to instill confidence in our residents and visitors. As we’ve progressed through this crisis and have learned more, we have worked with the local health department to refresh the Above and Beyond with a 2.0 version focusing on individual actions that can improve health, immunity, and limit the demand on our healthcare system.”
See the Above and Beyond initiative below posted to the Kane County Facebook page:
Throughout the pandemic, much of their local workforce has stayed well-connected and many visitors have been able to set up remote offices at local vacation rentals and hotels, the post shares.
“With an average of less than two people per square mile, there are ample opportunities to safely recreate and work remotely while enjoying the wide-open spaces, fresh air and sunshine in rural southern Utah,” the post was signed “Sincerely, Kane County Board of Commissioners.”
A joint statement to ABC4 from the Utah Department of Health and Utah Governors Office shares, “By public health order, a statewide mask requirement remains in effect for all counties, regardless of transmission levels. By this point, there should be no debating the effectiveness of masks at preventing the spread of COVID-19. We encourage Kane County residents to continue to wear masks, where appropriate, to protect themselves and other members of their community.”
Charla Haley, Public Information Officer for the Utah Department of Health, tells ABC4 the current mask mandate is a “statewide mask mandate issued by the state.”
When asked if Kane County can remove masks under the statewide mandate, Haley tells ABC4, “it’s a statewide mask mandate issued in a public health order. No.”
Robert Van Dyke, County Attorney for Kane County tells ABC4, “the Kane County Commission would like to make sure that our residents, businesses, and visitors have accurate information so that they can make informed decisions and take responsibility for their own health and the health of their families, friends and businesses.
Attached below is the official executive order issued from Kane County Commission Chair in conjunction with Southwest Utah Public Health Department.