Utah goes from “red to orange” in plan to eventually reopen businesses
SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert announced the state is moving from “red” to “orange” in terms of COVID-19 risk, a step closer toward allowing Utah businesses to reopen, by first acknowledging the hard work of everyone in the state to help “flatten the curve.”
The governor says the state’s goal was never to completely get rid of the risk stemming from COVID-19. He believes that’s impossible.
“We will never have zero risk. We know life has risk.”
He says their job is to manage those risks.
“Our first objective was to do things in such a way that we would not have [the] overwhelming of our hospital system,” Herbert said. “We credit the work of the people of Utah in helping us make sure that didn’t happen.”
Herbert referred to his own announcement from last week, Utah Leads Together 2.0, in announcing plans to return to something more like normal in the state.
“We have the color coding, as you know. We’ve identified red, orange, yellow and green,” Herbert said.
Red is high risk; orange means moderate risk for everyone, but still high risk for people who are vulnerable: those over the age of 65 or who have underlying health conditions. Yellow is low risk for everyone except those who are vulnerable, and green would mean back to “normal” levels of risk.
Tuesday, Herbert said Utah would transition from “red” to “orange” as of Friday, May 1, 2020. He stressed that moving to “orange” does not mean the state is back to business as usual. Instead, Herbert said the state would slowly transition back to fewer restrictions.
The previous form of the statewide directive instructed everyone to limit their groups to no more than 10 people. Starting Friday, that number will be increased to 20, although, people will still have to practice social distancing, and masks are still a must.
“Make sure that they’re wearing masks and exercising social distancing as they gather together.”
Also, certain businesses that were forced to close will be able to re-open, however, they’ll have strict guidelines to follow. Here are some examples…
- Movie theaters, zoos, concert halls and other event venues will have to keep a distance of 10 square feet around any household group. Plus, they have to open a window when high-risk groups will be able to come into the venue without pressure from crowds.
- Salons, tattoo parlors and other personal service shops will have to ensure both the worker and the customer keep masks on while in the store. Services that require the mask be removed, like beard trimming, will not be allowed.
- Hotels will also have to ensure everyone wears masks, plus, rooms should remain vacant for 48 hours after someone checks out.
Parks can be used, however, people shouldn’t congregate at trailheads, and pools will operate at 50% capacity. Also, people are warned not to touch “high-touch surfaces,” like handrails or signs.
Herbert says, “If you’re in parks, avoid large groups. We’ll probably have limited access to some of our parks. Don’t go play on the playground equipment. That’s still off limits for young people.”
TOO MUCH TOO SOON?
What if county officials or local governments feel it’s too soon to make these changes? The current directive says municipalities are not allowed to be more strict that the state, however, Herbert says these governments can ask for some leeway. If county or city leaders feel they need to vary from the directive, they can get permission from the state to do that.
“They will then work in conjunction with our state health department, which I will be working with, and we’d make a decision on that to grant them that variance of our overall statewide directive,” Herbert says.
Even once things return to normal, Herbert said, we may still require masks.
“As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger, ‘Never remove the mask,'” Herbert said.
Herbert announced the state will provide masks to those who need them and cannot get them.
State health officials announced four additional COVID-19 deaths in Utah, bringing the state’s total to 45. Of the 4,343 confirmed cases, health officials estimate more than 1,700 people with COVID-19 have recovered.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
- If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
- Get a flu shot.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707