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0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02e0000KPCW's COVID-19 news coverage for Summit County and Wasatch County, Utah. 0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02f0000You can also visit the Utah Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization websites for additional information.

Mask Mandate Met With Reluctance In Wasatch County

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Wasatch County doesn’t have a local ordinance for masks, but the county’s health department is following the governor’s new health orders, which includes that all residents must wear a mask until further notice. 

Because of the new mandate and Wasatch High School moving to online learning, a group of protesters assembled in front of the Wasatch County Administration building on Monday. 

Despite the protest, Wasatch County Health Department is still taking an educational approach to enforcing the new mandates. Spokeswoman Jonelle Fitzgerald said they would likely only take action if there was an "egregious overstep."

So far, she said, the department has heard complaints from both ends of the spectrum about the new health orders. 

“We hear complaints about there being a mandate, and control and guidelines,” Fitzgerald said. “We also hear complaints that we're not doing enough to enforce the guidelines. So there's a big division.” 

People, she said, have generally been compliant, and health officials have met with groups that don’t support the new mandate. 

“When we do hear about a business or a group of people that maybe are not following guidelines, then we are working to try to get in touch and talk with those people,” she said. “For the most part, we've had people willing to to help us out and willing to try to follow recommendations.”

The Heber City Police Department is trying to lead by example in regards to the mask mandate, according to Tammy Thacker with the department. 

“So we're doing what we can to mask up anytime we're involved with the public or anytime we're out and about,” Thacker said. “We're not going at this with a strong arm, we're going at it more with the educational outlook on it. We're trying to educate the public on why we need the masks and keeping our distance and doing what you can to stop the spread of the virus.”

She said the department has responded to a few cases where people were not complying to mask mandates in different locations. 

“We're doing our part in educating the public that it's that person's constitutional right not to wear the mask, the reason why we're wearing them is because of safety,” she said. “We're also educating the person not wearing their mask, because they're upset if they've been asked to leave the establishment or not allowed in an establishment that it's the establishment's right to refuse service, because they're not abiding by the mandate.” 

Dallin Koecher is the executive director of Heber Valley Tourism. He said the chamber board has heard from businesses that not much has changed — the businesses that were enforcing masks before still are and the businesses against mask mandates haven’t changed their minds.  

Some businesses he said appreciate the mask order because instead of mandates varying from store to store, it's now universal. 

“Before it came down there was kind of a mixed bag,” Koecher said. “Some folks really wanted to do it, really encouraged by putting masks on. Others felt like it was an overstretch. So this is just some of the things that I'm hearing is that they have appreciated the mask mandate, because then it now becomes clear what is required. So it's the same for everyone in every place.”

And he said the Chamber of Commerce will continue to support the mask mandate and educate business owners on why masks are important.

“We send out — pretty much weekly — a stay safe, stay open message to kind encourage people that mask wearing is a smart way to just stay open,” he said. “All we can do is model good behavior and do our best to show that we are doing our part. We've canceled some events, different things so that we can show that we're taking this mandate seriously, and that we want to respect people's time and space.”

The new mask mandate is in effect indefinitely, and under the governor’s health orders all social gatherings are restricted to same-households only until Nov. 23. 

 

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