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No, police aren’t responsible for enforcing the face mask mandate

The Utah Health Department provides new numbers every day detailing new cases of COVID-19. But the state's dashboard offers a deeper look into what the numbers mean.

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Since June 28, 2020, everyone in Salt Lake County has been required to wear a face mask when in public. Specifically, masks or face coverings are required at all indoor and outdoor public gatherings, in lines outside of public gatherings, and inside all stores and restaurants that are open to the public.

What exactly does that mean, and how will the mandate be enforced?

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs says he is wearing a face covering — and encourages others to do so.  But he told KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovich “we can’t turn our police department into mask enforcers.” 

Salt Lake County Health officials say that police won’t cart people off to jail.  They also say that most people won’t be harassed by officials for not having a mask. 

Instead, it’s up to businesses to require patrons to wear a mask while in their establishment.  And it’s up to the Salt Lake County Health Department to make sure owners and managers are enforcing the face mask rule.

“It’s just like any other health code owners have to follow,” said Nicholas Rupp, spokesman for the Salt Lake County Health Department. “And however they are enforcing their ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service’ policy is how they should handle this no mask mandate.”

“Education is the first step if business owners aren’t complying,” said Rupp.  Officials will first explain to owners why this, and all health code rules, are important.  

It’s only if an owner or manager is blatant about disregarding the mandate, or they have multiple complaints, that legal action will be taken against a business.

Rupp also wants the public to know they don’t need a mask if they are walking in the park or in an area where they can remain socially distant from others.  The concern is when people are in groups or an enclosed space where it is impossible to maintain a 6-feet social distance.

So, grocery stores, nail salons, tire centers, large outdoor activities, etc are all places where masks are required if you are anywhere in Salt Lake County.

If you are concerned that a business is not complying with the face mask mandate or is violating any other health code, you can call the Salt Lake County Health Department, Monday through Friday at 385-468-4636.  Or visit their website and click on ‘Report a Problem.’