SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Utah House legislature has joined the Senate in passing a bill on Friday that will now terminate the mask mandate enacted for Salt Lake and Summit Counties.
In a 45 to 29 vote, the Legislature passed a joint resolution that will immediately terminate mask mandates in Salt Lake and Summit Counties.
Just three days ago, the Senate passed the bill, otherwise known as SJR3 in a 22-5 vote.
The legislature has passed this bill after Salt Lake and Summit County issued a mandatory indoor mask mandate amid a nationwide COVID surge.
As many Republicans are celebrating the passage of the bill, some Democrat groups in Utah are not happy with the unilateral decision.
The Utah Democratic Party issued a statement shortly after the bill was passed:
“SJR3 is a slap in the face to our healthcare workers still struggling to save lives during this public health crisis. It is disrespectful to Utahns who are trying to do their part to follow public health guidelines to weather this pandemic. Despite the misleading rhetoric, the CDC still says high-quality masks ARE an effective tool against spreading this virus. Other areas that have experienced omicron variant surges have thankfully seen cases and hospitalizations subside after a few weeks. Now is a time for leadership and unity, not aggressive, divisive fights, targeting local efforts to protect the community during this temporary crisis. This move feels cynical and pessimistic at a time when Utahns are calling out for collective leadership.”
The Summit County Health, Dr. Phil Bondurant also issued a statement on the passage of the bill:
“The decision to implement Public Health Order 2022-01 in Summit County followed all legal requirements and was given extensive consideration by local elected officials and stakeholders. I remain firm in my belief that the actions taken by Summit County and the Summit County Health Department over the last two years have saved lives. Although the outcome of the vote regarding SJR003 provides a different direction than our Public Health Order, I still believe the action taken to require masks in public places, including schools, was the right one for Summit County. The ongoing Omicron surge has impacted every aspect of our lives at home, at work, in our schools, and our businesses. We ask our residents and visitors to remain diligent to protect themselves and their loved ones. Our advisory message has not changed because the best practices have not changed: stay home if you are sick, and get vaccinated or boosted if you have not done so, and wear a mask in public indoor spaces to protect the health of others.”
Several other proposed Covid-19 bills are making their way through the 2022 legislative session.
Another bill Utahns may want to keep their eyes open is the newest debate over covid that involves leadership. HB 182 unveiled during the legislative session would prevent mayors in Utah from using their emergency powers during a pandemic. It’s sponsored by Senators Ryan Wilcox and Kirk Cullimore.