When Utah mask mandate may end, changes to public gatherings in new health order

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Utah Department of Health has renewed a statewide public health order aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 across Utah.

The latest order replaces a previous order that expired at midnight and will remain in effect through March 25, 2021.

Some of the key elements of the order, which you can read below, highlighted by the Utah Department of Health include mask-wearing, “Test to Play” for high school extracurriculars and schools, changes to bar capacity limits, and allowance of public gatherings in some places.

Masks

Under the new order, masks are still required to be worn by individuals across the state in all counties across all transmission levels while indoors in public settings or outdoors when physical distancing is not feasible.

UDOH says that eight weeks after they announce that the state has been allocated 1,633,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, masks will no longer be required in counties designated as having a “low” transmission level.

As of Tuesday, UDOH is reporting 444,905 prime doses have been allocated.

High School Extracurricular and K-12 Testing

The new order says testing – often referred to as “Test to Stay” – will now be required of all high school students participating in one-time school-sponsored extracurricular activities, like a social dance. Students must follow isolation and quarantine protocols found in the school manual.

School districts are also instructed to work with their local health departments to determine the best course of action when a school reaches the outbreak thresholds established in the school manual. Districts may implement “Test to Stay,” or take other action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

If schools implement “Test to Stay,” any student who tests positive must transition to remote learning for 10 days from the date of their test.

Students who choose not to be tested should also transition to remote learning for 10 days if less than 60% of the school population participated in the testing event or if the percent positivity from the testing event is 2.5% or higher.

“The intent is to ensure schools do not transition entirely to remote learning when they reach the outbreak threshold level,” UDOH reports.

Bars

In counties with “moderate” transmission levels, bar are no longer required to limit occupancy to 75%. The order says a bar in a “moderate” county is required to ensure patrons wear masks when they are within six feet of patrons from a separate party.

Public Gatherings

The new order says public gatherings – like live events, movie theatres, sporting events, weddings, recreation, and entertainment – may occur with side-by-side seating if all patrons are wearing masks and can attest to being free of COVID-19 symptoms, and are not subject to quarantine or isolation.

This does not apply to an individual attending or participating in a religious service.

If someone in attendance tests positive for the virus, the event hosts must be able to contact any attendee who was in close contact with that individual.

Masks may be removed to eat or drink, but six feet physical distancing must be maintained from anyone from a separate party.

Transmission Level Thresholds

The 7-day average percent positivity metric used to determine levels of transmission will now use the “test over test” percent positivity metric. Because the “test over test” percent positivity skews lower than the previous “people over people” the range for percent positivity in the Transmission Index will shift lower. A 7-day average percent positivity of greater than 10% will belong to the “high” transmission category; a percent positivity between 5.1%-9.9% will belong to the “moderate” transmission category; and a percent positivity of 5% or less will belong to the “low” transmission category.

Read the full order below:

Click the square in the bottom right corner for full screen.

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