Utah Stories blog

Utah House overturns Salt Lake, Summit county mask mandates, effective immediately

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House voted 45-29 Friday morning to end the locally imposed COVID-19 mask mandates in Salt Lake and Summit counties, solidifying a veto-proof joint resolution that doesn’t need a signature from the governor to take effect.

Leading up to the vote, House Republican lawmakers argued mask mandates don’t work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and they’re doing more harm than good by dividing communities.

“Government cannot mandate kindness or compassion,” said Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Herriman, the House sponsor of the joint resolution, SJR3. “If we think we’re going to mandate people caring, we’re kidding ourselves.”

She argued it’s up to “families, churches and nongovernment entities” to “teach people how to love one another. That’s how you create kindness and compassion, not through mandates.”

The resolution also explicitly ends Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s order to require masks in K-12 schools in Salt Lake City.

In a prepared statement issued after the vote, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson urged residents to continue wearing masks “in spite of the misguided actions of the Legislature today.”

“We are at very high rates of COVID spread, and we are hopeful to have the omicron variant of the virus behind us soon,” the county mayor said. “Health experts agree masks worn properly help contain the spread of COVID. Let’s all help keep our teachers teaching, our students learning, our hospitals operating, and our residents healthy.”

"I'm just, I'm so done with these fights," he said. "It's a dumb fight to be having right now."

editors note: We applaud the legislature for ending the nonsense.

Image: Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, talks with Rep. Brady Brammer, R-Highland, as Rep. Doug Owens, R-Millcreek, works behind them prior to the beginning of the fourth day of the Utah legislative session Friday. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)