SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – As days near the end of the Utah mask mandate, some are left to wonder what that means for Salt Lake County.
According to House Bill 294, starting the second week of April, a partial statewide mask mandate will go into effect.
This will then terminate the emergency powers and certain public health orders related to COVID-19 upon reaching certain thresholds of positivity rates, vaccination, and other criteria.
Though the bill will allow for the lift of masks, many government leaders aren’t too thrilled and urge communities to continue in the original COVID-19 protocol.
Earlier in the week, Gov. Cox issued a statement and addressed the mask mandate.
“I obviously don’t love the bill,” Gov. Cox shares during Thursday’s conference. “In negotiations, we came up with the best we could do,” he adds.
When the mask mandate does end, Gov. Cox says he wants to encourage businesses to continue to require masks and advises Utahns to take personal responsibility for their health.
He says Utahns should take precautions to protect their health and asks high-risk individuals to continue to take precautions.
“Please act with respect to your fellow human beings,” Gov. Cox shares. “We are close to the end of this pandemic.”
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall agrees.
“Even as we welcome back people to our Salt Lake City eateries and barber shops, stores, and grocery stores across this fabulous capital city, we still need to exercise caution,” Mendenhall states. “Even though COVID-19 numbers have dropped and are continuing to drop significantly over the last few months, mask-wearing is still vital, we are not done.”
“I can’t forget Mayor Wilson’s mask order for Salt Lake County was an incredible asset for consumer confidence. It made a lot more people feel comfortable,” she adds.
Mendenhall then goes on to emphasize that the mask mandate not only helped slow the spread of the virus but “saved lives”.
“Masks have been good for businesses and I don’t want to see that progress destroyed,” she states. “I’m really grateful for businesses that are choosing to ask employees and patrons to keep wearing masks even after the masks mandate expires on April 10.”
With Governor Cox and Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall urging fellow Utahns to continue practicing COVID-19 safety guidelines, some are wondering where Salt Lake County’s Mayor Wilson sides.
Will a mask mandate still be imposed on the county even after April 10?
Mayor Wilson issues the following:
“We haven’t ruled out a possible mask mandate after April 10. We are currently reviewing options but (assuming the Ray bill goes into law) the most likely path is the County Council’s approval if the health department recommends. We are currently working through those options and waiting on the approval of the bill. I support the efforts of Mayor Mendenhall and other local officials who are encouraging businesses to still require masks at this point in time, regardless of political determinations.”
As for now, it seems as if government officials much rather have COVID-19 safety guidelines still in place until healthcare experts themselves say it is safe for complete mask removal.
“We are not completely out of the woods,” Mendenhall reminds Utahns across the state.