Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton, left, listens as council Chairman Steve DeBry, discusses the council’s position on extending the county’s mask mandate at the Salt Lake County Government Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Salt Lake County Health Director Gary Edwards recommended the county not extend the mandate pursuant to the passage of HB294. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Salt Lake County will not impose its own mask mandate after the statewide requirement that face coverings be worn in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19 ends Saturday, Salt Lake County Council Chairman Steve DeBry said Wednesday.
DeBry and other council members called a news conference to announce there will be no meeting Friday to consider the issue after Gary Edwards, executive director of the county’s health department, recommended not extending the mandate.
In a letter released by DeBry, Edwards said he “is not currently seeking approval” for a mask requirement, citing improvements including a decline in cases, but calling on the county to continue to encourage and recommend mask use.
Edwards did not attend the news conference held in the county’s Salt Lake City chambers and is set to hold his own news conference Wednesday afternoon. On Tuesday, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said masks will still have to be worn in country facilities.
DeBry said the public is tired of having to wear masks.
“There’s mask fatigue. There’s COVID fatigue. People want to get back to normal life,” he said. “This allows people in Salt Lake County to not wear a mask if they don’t want to.”
DeBry said businesses and other private property owners can still require masks, just as the county mayor ordered. Gov. Spencer Cox issued a similar order last week for state employees and those entering state buildings.
The Legislature passed a law in early March that on Saturday ends the statewide mask mandate put in place by then-Gov. Gary Herbert last November. The new law also requires that all COVID-19 restrictions end no later than July 1, and allows the K-12 mask mandate to continue through June.
Restrictions could end sooner if the state meets thresholds set by the new law that include Utah receiving 1.63 million first doses of COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government, something state health officials expect to happen by mid-May. Case counts and hospitalization rates also have to remain low.
This story will be updated.
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News
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