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Salt Lake mask mandate
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Salt Lake County announces plan for gradual reopening of businesses Friday

Salt Lake County announced Wednesday it would be extending its public mask mandate through the end of the year. (Sean Moody, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE COUNTY — With businesses beginning to reopen Friday, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson announced the county will be implementing certain requirements that will be included in the new changes — specifically addressing concerns to avoid another outbreak of COVID-19. This will replace the current order in place, reflecting the statewide plan the governor will launch Friday.

“As businesses open, they’ll need to begin to operate differently,” Wilson said Wednesday. “Social distancing, face masks and sanitation will be necessary.”

Statewide phase-in

Wilson said the phase-in period will need to be gradual, with roughly 25% of employees returning at first and residents exercising caution when visiting businesses. Face masks will be required for businesses interacting with the public, with county residents being strongly encouraged to wear those as well.

The announcement comes one day after Gov. Gary Herbert announced the state would move from “red” to “orange” in terms of COVID-19 risk, a step closer toward allowing Utah businesses to reopen. This means the state will transition from its “Urgency Phase” in the Utah Leads Together 2.0 Plan to the “Stabilization Phase.”

In this phase, social gatherings can be increased from 10 to 20 people, although social distancing measurements and face masks will still be strongly encouraged. Some businesses will also begin to reopen under this transition.

“We need to keep this virus stabilized,” Wilson said. “Remain vigilant, remain wise, protect yourself and those you love now more than ever.”

Businesses in Salt Lake County

The guidelines for Salt Lake County to reopen are similar to the governor’s updates, but with the increased requirement of wearing face masks in public — which Herbert hasn’t mandated statewide.

Despite businesses reopening, residents should still try to stay home and upkeep social distancing practices, according to Gary Edwards, the county Health Department executive director.

For food service businesses, the county is still encouraging take-out and curb service — but dine-in can be re-implemented with certain requirements. These include both employees and customers wearing masks and limiting customer groups to six people.

Customers should maintain a 6-foot separation, while waiting in line as well as when dining.

For gyms and fitness centers, employees and customers must wear face masks unless engaging in rigorous physical activity. Customers must keep a 6-foot distance, increasing this to a 10-foot distance inside the exercise facility.

Swimmers must limit capacity with one person to a lane in lap pools. For recreational pools, customers must not exceed 50% capacity, with hot tubbing not being allowed at this time.

For entertainment and sports venues, employees and customers must continue wearing face coverings, with seating provided at a 10-foot distance between household groups. Employees must also regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Enforcement of updated policies

Enforcement of these new policies will be through the health department with fines and penalties, as allowed through local law.

“We have all along asked for partnership with our cities and various police forces,” Wilson said.

While the county doesn’t want to be “heavy handed,” Wilson said she does ask local governments to enforce these guidelines.

“We all want to get back to living life as we knew it,” the county said in a statement. “But to get there, social distancing, face coverings and other safe hygiene and interaction practices remain critical to our ongoing success.”

This phase is planned to be in place for the next two weeks, but this may change depending on feedback they get from the governor. The county will continue reassessing data as things change with both the economy and public health concerns in mind, according to Wilson.

“I move forward with caution and with some concern,” Wilson said.