SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – It’s a first of its kind move in Utah.
Salt Lake City will continue to require masks even after the state’s mask mandate ends this Saturday, April 10.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall says the move is what’s best for the community and was mostly data-driven.
She adds that it took several weeks between her and her team to make the decision.
Essentially, the mask mandate that is in place now in Salt Lake City will continue, indefinitely.
“This is law,” says Mendenhall.
This is a law that goes against the end of the statewide mask mandate.
“It has defied the expertise of doctors around the world, across this country, and right here in Utah who continue to ask us to wear masks and other protective measures against this contagious virus,” says Mendenhall.
University of Utah Health Dr. Russel Vinik says the virus has spread more in Salt Lake City than in Salt Lake County.
The UK COVID-19 variant currently makes up 30% of cases in Salt Lake City. Two months ago, that number was closer to one percent.
“That is a very rapid rise and we expect that to continue to rise and likely will create an increase in cases in the near future,” says Vinik.
The future is looking bright for restaurant owners in downtown Salt Lake City.
“We are thrilled,” says owner of Takashi and Post Office Place, Tamara Gibo.
“I am so grateful for her support,” says owner of Public Coffee, Missy Greis.
“My entire staff was dreading having the arguments, the fights, and the unpleasant that can happen when they feel they don’t need to follow the rules of the establishment,” Gibo tells ABC4.
Both Gibo and Greis say they would have required masks regardless of Mendenhall’s decision.
Greis adds that the statewide mask mandate should have been extended.
“Our employees across this industry are not happy about this,” says Greis. “All of us are ready to drop the mask and it is not going to happen yet.”
The Salt Lake City mask mandate does not have an end date.
“It continues exactly what is in place today,” Mendenhall explains. “It doesn’t make any changes to the mask mandate.”
A big data point for Mendenhall was that much of the COVID-19 data has plateaued, but not declined, like the rest of Salt Lake County.