SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – Summit County has announced an indoor mask mandate beginning tomorrow, Jan. 7 due to a massive Omicron surge in Utah.

Summit County officials have declared a local public health emergency and will require face coverings while inside all public buildings.

Public Health Order 2022-01 was enacted by Summit County Manager Tom Fisher and Summit County Health Officer Dr. Phil Bondurant.

All businesses must comply with the mask mandate and post a visible notice enforcing the new rule. The order begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, January 7, 2022 and is currently in effect until 5 p.m. on February 21, 2022.

Officials say COVID-19 poses a, “continuing and immediate threat to the public health of Summit County residents and visitors.” The mandate applies to everyone in the area, regardless of vaccination status.

Some exemptions include:

  • Individuals under two years of age, those with medical conditions, impairments, or disabilities that prevent wearing a face-covering.
  • Individuals engaging in work where they are alone in an indoor establishment or facility, individuals for whom wearing a face-covering would create a risk to the individual related to their work as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • Individuals seated at a restaurant or other food/beverage establishment while they are eating or drinking.

According to UDOH, as of Jan. 4, around 85% of all ICU beds were currently occupied, overwhelming healthcare officials and local hospitals.

“This was not an easy decision and certainly not an action we wanted to take at this stage of the pandemic,” Dr. Bondurant said. “I am especially concerned for our frontline workers, our children and staff in schools and the current strain on our healthcare system. Masks combined with vaccines are critical tools to help us weather this surge and protect our critical services.”

As Utah continues shattering previous single-day records of new COVID-19 cases, health officials are concerned the spread will become uncontrollable.

“Omicron is certainly the most rapidly spreading virus among the ones we have been able to investigate at this level of details,” says Epidemiologist William Hanage, co-director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard University. “The problem is there will be serious cases and because it is so infectious, the total number that will need medical attention will put a strain on the health system.”

To see a full list of exemptions and rules and regulations, click here.