SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In his last monthly press conference before the NBA season begins, Governor Spencer Cox, a noted Utah Jazz fan, couldn’t resist dropping a reference to his favorite team.
The allusion to the basketball team came in response to a question as to whether he would support a bill that has been pitched in the state legislature to block private businesses from issuing a vaccine mandate.
In short, the Governor’s answer was no.
A private business he saluted for implementing a mandate: the Utah Jazz.
“I think the business should be able to have a mandate,” Cox stated. “We know the Utah Jazz recently said that they’re going to require either a test or a vaccine, and that’s their right to do so and we applaud the marketplace making those decisions.”
Last Friday, both the Utah Jazz and Vivint Arena, properties under the Smith Entertainment Group, announced that either proof of vaccination or a negative test taken 72 hours prior would be required for entry into all events at the venue, including Jazz home games.
The requirement comes as the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to take a toll on the continuing global health crisis.
“As a community gathering place, we have a responsibility to protect our guests by putting health and safety standards in place,” said Jim Olson, president of Vivint Arena and the Utah Jazz in a press release issued on Friday. “The delta variant is a threat to the sports and entertainment industry and our community at large. We ask Jazz fans to get vaccinated to help stop the surge. We stand united with health care professionals on the importance of vaccinations. We believe this is the path forward to shut down this pandemic.”
The first implementation of the requirement will come on the same day that Cox voiced his support for the team and arena’s requirement, Thursday night’s NHL exhibition game between the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights.
According to Cox, a mandate not to allow businesses to have mandates is “a mandate in itself.”
“It’s government still telling businesses what they can and can’t do, and I’m opposed to that,” he affirmed.
While he voiced his support for the Jazz’s mandate, Cox also made it clear, he thinks a business should be able to have the option of either having a requirement or not.
“The Lt. Governor and I, a couple of months ago had a conversation with you all, where we said that we support businesses in their decisions on whether or not to require vaccines and I continue to do that.”
Cox also confirmed that if such a bill reaches his desk, he would immediately veto and kill it.
One Utah lawmaker, Rep. Chris Stewart has voiced his feelings on the mandate from the Jazz, stating that he will boycott all home games this season and perhaps all future games moving forward, even though he is vaccinated and would be able to enter the arena freely to watch the team.
“I will never allow a private company to require that I show proof of any medical procedure to visit their facility,” Stewart declared in a social media post on Wednesday.
“More recently, in a world where so many things have turned contentious and divisive, the Jazz were an opportunity to bring us together,” Stewart continued. “That’s why I will miss them.”
As for whether Cox is concerned that some may be frustrated by his refusal to take a stance towards a business’ ability to impose a mandate, it would appear that isn’t a priority for him, a believer in free markets.
“I know that position can be can be maddening to some and that’s fine.”
Jazz fans, including Cox, can look forward to Jazz games at the arena beginning on Oct. 11, when they host the New Orleans Pelicans in a preseason contest.
The team announced this week that the entire roster has been vaccinated, something that would prevent a number of headaches as the NBA season gears up. The league also announced this week that any players who have to miss games due to vaccine refusal and an inability to play in certain cities where such is required would miss pay for those games.