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Gov. Cox declares state of emergency ahead of expected protests over the weekend

State leaders believe Utah may start getting enough doses to make COVID-19 vaccines available for everyone who wants one by April or May. (PHOTO: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox declared a weeklong state of emergency Thursday evening ahead of planned protests at the state Capitol building. The declaration will begin Friday and continue until after the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20. 

The state of emergency comes in response to the storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. last week as Congress met to certify the Electoral College results. After violence broke out — resulting in five deaths and dozens of arrests — several lawmakers remarked they feared for their lives. 


The violence also resulted in damage to the U.S. Capitol building as protesters smashed windows and vandalized indoor walls. 

“We respect the right of Utah residents to peaceably assemble as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution,” Cox said in a statement. “But we draw the line at threats to physical safety or to the Utah Capitol building. No violence of any kind will be tolerated.”

Utah state troopers report they will increase security at the Capitol over the weekend in anticipation of planned protests. 

Cox signed the executive order Thursday evening, which will close the Capitol grounds to the public until Jan. 21. That means it will be closed during Mr. Biden’s inauguration as well as the state of the state legislative session. 

The governor also asked the Utah National Guard, Utah Highway Patrol and surrounding police departments to be prepared in case violence breaks out.