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Gov. Herbert approves more mask mandates as cases rise

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Utah, the Salt Lake Chamber issued a statement urging for a statewide mask mandate.

SALT LAKE CITY — Mask mandates will soon be implemented in parts of Utah that are home to several of the state’s famous national parks. The measures will not extend to park lands, which are run by the federal government.

Mask mandates near national parks

Gov. Gary Herbert has approved requests for face covering mandates in Grand County and the city of Springdale that go into effect Friday. Grand County is home to the popular tourist destination of Moab, which is located right outside Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Springdale is the town closest to the entrance of Zion National Park. 

This comes at the same time Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson extended her mandatory mask order to last until Aug. 20. On the same day, Salt Lake Chamber and over 130 businesses called for a statewide mandate. 

Salt Lake County was one of two counties to implement a mandatory mask order that went into effect June 27. 

The order requires county residents to wear a mask in public, either indoor or outdoor, whenever social distancing isn’t possible. Many businesses have taken this a step further by requiring face coverings in their establishments. 

The original health order was set to expire Friday. 

No statewide mandate – yet

While there isn’t a statewide mandate to wear masks, Gov. Gary Herbert has been vocal about his support to wear them in public — calling on Utahns to “do better.” 

“We hope that all Utahns understand the importance of wearing a mask, and will be diligent in their efforts to wear one,” Herbert wrote in a statement June 12.

Avoiding another surge

As of Thursday, Utah reported 10 thousand active cases of the coronavirus bringing the total to 23,270 confirmed cases. The recent spike of cases caused state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn to warn Utahns the state was reaching a critical point. 

Dunn tweeted Thursday the state experienced a “surge after Memorial Day,” reminding Utahns to be mindful over the holiday weekend. 

“Our hospitals can’t handle another [surge],” Dunn tweeted. “We are spending the holiday weekend apart from others, outside in the fresh air, and wearing masks IF we have to go anywhere else. Please do the same.”

 

Grand County was the next to request a mandatory mask order from the governor, as the Salt Lake Chamber and several businesses requested Gov. Herbert to make it a statewide mandate. 

The chamber issued a statement — signed by over 130 businesses like Zions Bank, the University of Utah, Salt Lake County and Larry H. Miller Group — noting the rising number of cases across Utah. The group urged the governor to order mandatory masks and face coverings for areas in the red, orange and yellow phases of the recovery plan. 

The governor’s office said it would review recommendations with legislative leaders next week, with a possible decision to follow.