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Meet the watchdog who keeps an eye out for Covid-19 business violations

Face mask requirement signs are posted in Sport City as Club GSL practices volleyball in Draper on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Most Utah businesses are able to stay open so long as they follow state guidelines to prevent COVID-19, such as capacity limits and requiring masks. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Most companies in the state are following rules on wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic while inside stores and shops, but what happens to a business that commits violations? 

Gov. Gary Herbert put the onus on businesses to ensure they follow and enforce COVID-19 safety guidelines and ensure employees wear masks, encourage patrons to do likewise and post signs to that effect.

Covid-19 business violations

Eric Olsen with the Utah Labor Commission joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic Tuesday to discuss how the state goes about fining companies who are out of compliance with coronavirus rules and regulations.

Debbie asked whether the complainant can remain anonymous.

Olsen said the person informing the commission of suspected violation(s) about COVID-19 can remain unidentified either by calling ((801) 530-6800) or visiting its website.

He added that the commission likes to contact the complainant if possible to find out more information about the alleged violations in law.

Debbie asked whether the number of complaints to the Labor Commission has increased since the governor’s announcement on Nov. 9.

“Since last Monday, we’ve had over 200 complaints,” he said. “UOSH [Utah Occupational Safety and Health Division] generally get between 80 and 100 complaints a month. We’ve had 200 in a week.”

Can’t do anything about customer in Aisle 9

Olsen pointed out that the Labor Commission does not have jurisdiction over customers complaining about other customers.

“Our enforcement jurisdiction ends at the workplace,” he said.

Olsen said the commission investigates each complaint, but he couldn’t comment on specific businesses and what fines have been levied. He added fines can reach a maximum of $7,000. They can also be appealed by businesses.

“What happens if you do have repeat offenders?” Dave asked.

“Well, then we’ll continue to have repeat fines,” Olsen said. “At some point you would hope that it wouldn’t take more than one fine and say, ‘Hey, this isn’t worth the extra money. We need to make sure we’re onboard with this.’ ”

Olsen said businesses can obtain signs at instructing patrons to wear masks and to remind them to keep employees and themselves safe.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, 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.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • 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.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States