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Summit County unveils plan to begin lifting stay-at-home restrictions

Health officials in Summit County say a spike in COVID-19 cases are linked to a party earlier this month. (Photo: Summit County Health Department)

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — Summit County unveiled its strategy for moving into the next stage of Gov. Gary Herbert’s “Utah Leads Together 2.0” plan, announcing it will begin lifting stay-at-home orders at the start of May. Beginning May 1, the county said it will begin entering the Stabilization Phase of the governor’s plan.

Under this next phase, the county will start lifting current stay-at-home orders.  Businesses and other social activities will be gradually re-implemented.

“We commend the residents of Summit County for staying home and doing a great job to protect their community,” said County Council Chair, Doug Clyde, in a statement.

“Because of everyone’s efforts, we are able to begin the transition from the ‘Urgent Phase’ of the emergency to the ‘Stabilization Phase’ which will begin to allow citizens and businesses to get back to work.”

Where Utah stands on stay-at-home restrictions

This announcement comes three days after Gov. Herbert unveiled a modified version of his original “Utah Leads Together” plan Friday. At that time, the governor announced steps the state will take to reactivate the economy.

Under the modified plan, the state will undergo three stages to address and curb the spread of the virus. They are the Urgent Phase, the Stabilization Phase, and the Recovery Phase.

Utah entered the Urgent Phase March 16, which enforced strict social distancing measures. Those included restaurants halting dine-in services, schools closing for the duration of the academic year and non-essential employees working from home. This phase was expected to last eight to 12 weeks, according to the plan documents.

Under this first phase, the governor said it was essential all Utahns participate — noting “adherence to this phase will shorten other phases and accelerate economic recovery.”

Stay-at-home restrictions helped state stay on course

Adhering to the guidelines under the Urgent Phase, Herbert issued his first “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive March 27, with an extension lasting until May 1. However, the governor said he believes the state will be ready to begin moving into the next phase.

On Friday, Herbert said the state will be moving forward into its Stabilization Phase. He said they expect to launch this next stage soon, predicting the shift will occur at the end of April or beginning of May.

Herbert said he is hopeful that by the beginning of May, Utahns can begin lifting stay-at-home restrictions and social distancing measures, continue with dine-in services, allow for elective surgeries and more. Along with this next phase, employees can begin returning to work as they stay vigilant with social distancing measures.

Summit County and the second phase

Summit County already has plans to initiate this second phase, beginning gradually reopening its county May 1. However, county officials say they’ll continue to monitor epidemiological data and test results. This will help them determine the risk levels as that date nears.

Entering this second phase, the county plans to continue sanitation practices that will allow businesses to open.  The second phase will also help the county avoid a second community-spread virus breakout.

“Governor Herbert’s plan is a good plan,” said Dr. Richard Bullough, Summit County Health Officer, in a statement. “I am pleased by how our County has performed during this pandemic. All decisions we have made in response to this virus have been data-driven and that will remain as we reactivate the economy. We have a plan for getting people back to work but the trigger points and how we adjust will be based on the data.”

The new health order will also provide new guidance on crowds and mass gatherings of up to 20 people. The hope is to increase that numberto 50 people near the end of the Stabilization Phase.