New COVID-19 Restrictions Mandate Masks Statewide, Confine Social Gatherings
Masks are now indefinitely mandated throughout all of Utah. And social gatherings are restricted to the same households for the next two weeks. Governor Gary Herbert announced these new restrictions along with others late Sunday night.
Under the new restrictions all Utahns will be required to wear masks in any place of business until further notice regardless of county designation in the state’s COVID-19 Index. Governor Gary Herbert said wearing masks is the easiest way to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Masks do not negatively affect our economy,” Herbert said. “Experts tell us that masks do not cause a shortage of oxygen to your brain or cause disease. We cannot afford to debate this issue any longer.”
Herbert said all businesses will be required to enforce masks, and businesses that don’t comply will be subject to fines from the state labor commission.
All social gatherings are also off limits for the next two weeks. This means residents can't have events in their own homes with anyone outside of their immediate households.
“Although we are relatively safe in institutional settings, such as offices, stores, churches, etc, data tells us that we are most vulnerable to infection in casual social gatherings,” he said. “It is crucial that we exercise more caution when socializing with those who do not live with us in our homes.”
He said gatherings will be restricted for two weeks because that’s the incubation period for COVID-19.
And he said anyone who organizes social gatherings that do not meet social distancing requirements or enforce masks will be subject to fines of up to $10,000.
Even though social gatherings aren’t allowed for the time being, Herbert said businesses will still stay open.
“Utah is open for business, you can still shop, dine in or carry out, exercise, worship and recreate and many other things,” he said. “We're just saying stay within your household group whenever possible, particularly for the next two weeks.”
All school clubs and sports are also cancelled for the next two weeks. The only exceptions are high school playoff/championship games and intercollegiate sports.
Herbert also announced that the state will expand testing. The state’s new targeted testing program will provide screenings to people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. The program will involve weekly testing for college students and expand to high school students who are involved in extracurricular activities, people in the workforce under 35-years-old and high school teachers.
Herbert said the state will use the national guard in testing and contact tracing.
He added, with the holiday season approaching fast, the state will soon release recommendations and suggestions on how to safely gather.