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Mayor Mendenhall: Plan to reopen businesses in Salt Lake City like a “dial, not a light switch”

Apr 15, 2020, 7:46 PM
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall talks COVID-19, Stay at Home orders, and business during onlin...
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall answered questions during an AMA on Facebook regarding when businesses will reopen. (Photo: Kelli Pierce)
(Photo: Kelli Pierce)

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall is aware of how tough it can be to stay home.

“I know as a family…as a mayor that we’re getting restless, and people want to get back to work. People need to get back to work, businesses want to reopen…[but] this is literally about saving the lives of our community members,” Mendenhall said.

The mayor hosted an Ask Me Anything session with other city leaders on Facebook, where she took questions about a variety of topics. Questions about restarting the economy and when businesses will reopen were some of the most popular people submitted.

But Mayor Mendenhall said Salt Lake City still has the most COVID-19 cases in the county.

“And certain zip codes in our city, in particular, are being the hardest hit. So, we are going to be making decisions from a database to public health perspective, and then doing everything we can to support our people and our economy,” Mendenhall said.

That’s why the mayor is not rushing the reopening of businesses, explaining the city’s plan is more like a “dial, not a light switch”.

“The more we [follow Salt Lake County’s Stay at Home order] now, get through this hard time, I think the faster our economic recovery will be and the smaller our public impact will be. But if we keep letting this roll out of control…or if we open it up too quickly and flip a light switch instead of turning a dial, we’re going to see a spread of the virus. That’s not good for anyone in the state,” Mendenhall said.

However, the city has set aside millions to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic, so cuts to services are projected to be minimal.

The AMA did not just focus on the economy.

Mendenhall signaled support for closing off some streets temporarily to through traffic to give people more options to walk around the city, as trails have become crowded.

When asked why golf courses are allowed to be open, Mendenhall said the operators figured out how to safely practice social distancing.

Mendenhall and Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown, who was also on the video call, also reminded people to use a specially designated phone number to report people violating the stay at home order so 9-1-1 is not overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, the economy was not the only grim spot. Chief Brown said their domestic violence caseload has gone up 32% in a month.

However, victims are being given cell phones so they can communicate with their caseworkers or police officers.

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Mayor Mendenhall: Plan to reopen businesses in Salt Lake City like a “dial, not a light switch”