Utah Stories blog

Utah Governor Herbert orders statewide mask mandate, new coronavirus restrictions

Utah’s governor declared a new state of emergency late Sunday after the state’s most devastating week of the pandemic, as COVID-19 infections skyrocketed and deaths hit new highs. His big concern is the surge in hospitalizations that may soon overwhelm doctors and nurses.

Gov. Gary Herbert issued a series of new restrictions, including a statewide mask mandate — a step he has resisted for months.

Unlike other restrictions, the governor intends to extend the mask mandate “for the foreseeable future.” Businesses that fail to comply will face fines.

The new executive orders are signed by Herbert and by Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who is the governor-elect. They limit any social gatherings to people in the same households and place a hold on all school extracurricular activities, including athletic and intramural events.

These restrictions take effect at 1 p.m. Monday and will end Nov. 23, just a few days before Thanksgiving. The governor said the state will offer holiday recommendations in the coming days.

This order doesn’t require any business to close, but businesses and event hosts must require social distancing.

The order does not apply to churches.

It doesn’t require any schools to go online — despite a teachers union pushing for junior high and high schools to go virtual.

The new restrictions don’t stop professional or college sports or the completion of the high school playoffs as long as coaches and athletes test negative and the crowds are severely limited. The order says there can be two attendees for every player or coach.

People can eat in restaurants if they can stay 6 feet apart from other groups. Eating with people not in your household is strongly discouraged. Bars must close at 10 p.m. each night.

Image credit: (Laura Seitz | Deseret News, pool) Gov. Gary Herbert wears a mask prior to speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.