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Gov. Herbert issues “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive

FILE: Governor Gary Herbert speaking at a February press conference announcing the formation of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games. (Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Gov. Gary Herbert updated recommendations for the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19, calling on Utahns to stay home and work from home as much as possible. He said Utahns should focus on social distancing, maintaining six feet between people and substituting handshakes for other ways to greet.

However, these recommendations are directives — not an official order. Herbert said to continue with practicing common sense tactics to prevent the spread of the virus.

The directives will be in place until April 13. Gov. Herbert said he expects all Utahns to follow these directives, saying it won’t work unless everyone works together.

This comes two days after Summit County issued a stay-at-home order Wednesday, which officially went into effect Friday morning.

“I recognize we are asking you to do some things that are disruptive, that are uncomfortable,” Herbert said during a press conference Friday. “We are all facing trials that require us to sacrifice.”

This new directive, called “Stay Safe, Stay Home,” is part of his Utah Leads Together Plan. It’s the next step in the first stage called the ‘Urgency Phase’ which he said is one of the most crucial.

The new directive aims to flatten the curve, reduce the strain on local hospitals and the healthcare system and minimize the impact on medical resources.

Herbert said there needs to be full effort during this phase for it to be successful. During this ‘Urgency Phase,’ it’s important to not visit hospitals, retirement homes or other high-risk areas unless necessary.

He said if everyone works together for success, it can help flatten the curve in a matter of weeks rather than months.

“I’m tremendously grateful to all Utahns who are already taking steps to stay at home whenever possible,” the governor said in a statement. “While we are seeing positive indications that this is slowing the spread of coronavirus in our communities, we need to do more. The clear directives issued today will help Utahns understand what activities are safe — and if we unite behind these instructions as if our lives depended upon them, we will, in fact, save many lives.”

He also said schools will remain closed — advising children to not meet for play dates or on playgrounds during this break.

Gov. Herbert reinforces the recommendations given in previous announcements, including the suspension of dine-in services. However, he encourages Utahns to order take-out and delivery to support the local economy.

 

In terms of travel, Gov. Herbert said limit these to only essential trips. This includes going to a job that cannot be completed remotely, including emergency services and essential businesses.

He said Utahns can still take leisurely drives, but to consider activities that can be done at home first. Grocery shopping will be allowed as well, but Gov. Herbert recommends this to be done only when necessary.

Outdoor activities like running, hiking and camping are still okay — but they all need to be consistent with the six-foot rule of social distancing.

State parks will only be available to the residents of the county in which the park is located. National parks availability is still under review by committees in Washington, D.C.

The announcement comes hours after the Utah Department of Health confirmed the second COVID-19 death in the state. During its daily briefing, the department reported a total 480 confirmed cases in Utah.

The state will continue analyzing the situation to see if enforcement mechanisms are needed. Daily briefings from the governor on updates of COVID-19 will begin Monday.