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Orem not planning a mask mandate despite rising COVID-19 cases

Sep 17, 2020, 6:09 PM | Updated: 6:51 pm
Orem mask mandate...
Illustration by Peter Hamlin.;

OREM, Utah – Utah reported 911 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, in large part driven by the return of college students in Utah County. Despite this, Orem Mayor Richard Brunst says the city is not planning on passing a mask mandate. 

There are a few reasons the city is holding off on a mandate, at least for now.

Brunst says since many places require masks, including in city buildings, it’s almost like Orem has a mandate already. 

“All of our retail and restaurants require the wearing of masks. [Utah Valley University] requires that. Our hospitals require that…our schools require the wearing of masks. And we feel that’s one of the best ways to actually enforce the wearing of masks,” Brunst says. 

Enforcement is another reason the city is hesitant to issue a mask mandate. 

The mayor says there are only 120 members of the police department to patrol a city of close to 100,000 people. 

“It would take away from the duties that they’re assigned to: protect our citizens, to enforce the other laws of our community, and it would really not be feasible,” Brunst said. 

These are similar concerns that the Provo Police Department had before that city passed its own mask mandate.  

Even though Orem does not have a mask mandate, Mayor Brunst says he sees people wearing them voluntarily all the time.

“I go into a hospital, I go into a restaurant, I go to a retail outlet, there are signs on the windows that say, ‘You are not to come in unless you’re wearing a mask.’ I see the members of our community all following that,” Brunst says. 

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