SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – While the statewide mask mandate is set to end on April 10, the Utah Department of Health is encouraging residents to continue wearing masks.
House Bill 294, signed into law by Governor Spencer Cox does say the state can no longer require people to wear masks, but it does say mask requirements remain in effect for:
- Group gatherings of 50 or more people where physical distancing is not possible—until certain metrics outlined in the bill are met.
- K-12 schools through the end of the 2020-2021 school year (June 15).
- Private businesses may keep mask requirements in place to protect employees and customers.
- County legislative bodies may also have their own countywide mask requirements.
“Until more people have a chance to get vaccinated, we urge people to continue to wear masks in public places and around those who haven’t been vaccinated. We’ve come so far and are so close to returning to normal. We ask for your patience and cooperation a little while longer,” says Richard Saunders, executive director at the UDOH.
In a Friday release, UDOH says public health officials asked the state Legislature to keep the school mask requirement in place because:
- No vaccine is currently authorized for anyone younger than 16.
- Not every adult in the school setting has been vaccinated.
- Children can get very sick from COVID and have serious long-term effects.
- Children can get COVID, not feel sick, and transmit the illness to other people who aren’t vaccinated yet.
School quarantine guidance says students and staff must quarantine at home if they were not wearing masks at the time of exposure to the virus at school or extracurricular activities.
State health officials say they want “to make sure students can continue to participate in extracurricular activities and do not lose the opportunity for in-person learning.”
“We encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask, to keep students safe and allow them to continue participating in these important milestones in their lives,” UDOH adds.