SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah lawmakers tell ABC4 it’s unlikely a mask mandate will return.
Under current law, the Governor could enact a temporary declaration, but it’s ultimately up to the legislature.
House Republicans and Democrats don’t see eye to eye in this situation.
Rep. Paul Ray said he doesn’t see a need for it because of vaccinations, meanwhile, Rep. Brian King said he supports whatever local health officials say is the right thing to do.
House Bill 294 known as the Covid-19 endgame bill has expired but all of its provisions are still state law through Senate Bill 195.
The bill lays out emergency response powers.
With COVID-19 cases rising, mask-wearing declining, and local health officials advising, both House Republicans and Democrats are weighing in on mask mandates for the general public and schools.
“The vaccine is out there,” said Ray. “There is really not a need to force everybody to wear a mask or to force things to close down again because we have options. If you do want to get sick you can wear a mask or get vaccinated or both.”
“In my opinion when we were dealing with this in the last session was that we were being too quick to regulate and tie the hands of that medical and health professionals,” said King.
Both sides agreed it would be hard to pass new legislation pushing for a mask mandate to allow schools to do it.
Legislators said local health departments and/or Gov. Cox can put a 30-day emergency health order in place, but after that, the state legislature would have to extend it.
The legislature could even deny it.
“I want to move forward to a brighter future as much as the next person, but I don’t think we should be legislating at the state level, l the legislative level, at what public health officials or what school districts or what businesses should or should not do in regard to COVID,” said King.
So what would it take from the legislature to pass mask mandate if it were ever brought to the table?
“I think a special session if we wanted to go back and put a mask mandate or any other kind of restrictions; it would take a special session of the legislature and I can tell you talking to my colleagues the vote is not there,” said Ray. “It would not pass.”