John Forker, left, and Jill Forker wear masks while walking in downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. After announcing Salt Lake City will still require masks in public after the statewide mandate ends this weekend, Mayor Erin Mendenhall clarified the proclamation noting that masks will still need to be worn by employees and patrons at all businesses, but not at home gatherings or religious services. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
After announcing Salt Lake City will still require masks in public after the statewide mandate ends this weekend, Mayor Erin Mendenhall clarified the proclamation noting that masks will still need to be worn by employees and patrons at all businesses, but not at home gatherings or religious services.
“Even though we’ve been encouraged by declining case rates and increasing vaccinations, the decline in Salt Lake City’s 14-day and three-day case averages has plateaued,” Mendenhall said Wednesday, as she explained the need for continued masking during a news conference.
“By the state’s own standards, every part of Salt Lake City is still in the high rate of case incidence or very high rate,” she said.
The Legislature passed a bill in early March to end the statewide mask mandate put in place last November. On Saturday, the mask mandate will end except for within K-12 schools.
Mendenhall said she is using her office’s emergency powers to keep a mask mandate in place for the city.
But the original proclamation issued Wednesday would have required any individual within the city age 2 or older — who can medically and psychologically tolerate a face covering — to wear one when in any public area, including outdoors, where members of different households are there and social distancing isn’t possible.
That proclamation prompted questions from the public about specific scenarios in which masks will be required, said Lindsey Nikola, Mendenhall’s spokeswoman.
It was rescinded and replaced late Wednesday evening with a new proclamation.
“The intent of the changes are really to clarify for people the expectations for this mask requirement,” she said.
The new proclamation requires masks inside all indoor public settings; in outdoor settings where physical distancing within 6 feet of another party isn’t possible; and at events at amusement or water parks, arenas, aquariums, aviaries, botanical gardens, movie theaters and cinemas, and other like locations.
Face masks will not be required under the proclamation in situations including while eating or drinking; while alone or only with other members of the same household in a room, cubicle or vehicle; when exercising or performing in an athletic event; or when performing for an audience.
Nikola said the Salt Lake community’s response to an ongoing mask requirement has been mostly positive.
“People seem ready and willing to do what it takes to continue making sure that they stay healthy and that the people around them stay healthy,” Nikola said.
All restrictions will end when and 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.
The latest Utah COVID-19 data
Meanwhile, the Beehive State continued to see a new wave of coronavirus cases on Thursday. The state confirmed another 483 cases and 10 more deaths, four of which occurred before March 18.
Utah’s death toll from the virus now stands at 2,149. The deaths reported Thursday include:
Salt Lake County man, older than 85, hospitalized at time of death.
Washington County man, 65-84, hospitalized at time of death.
Utah County woman, older than 85, long-term care facility resident.
Salt Lake County woman, older than 85, long-term care facility resident.
Sanpete County woman, older than 85, hospitalized at time of death.
Washington County woman, older than 85, not hospitalized at time of death.
Sevier County man, 65-84, not hospitalized at time of death.
Washington County woman, 65-84, hospitalized at time of death.
Utah County man, older than 85, long-term care facility resident.
Davis County woman, 65-84, hospitalized at time of death.
Utah has administered 1,603,855 COVID-19 vaccine doses, a daily increase of 42,688. As of Thursday, 1,042,595 Utahns have received at least one vaccine dose. All residents who are at least 16 years old can get a vaccination.
Currently, 138 people are hospitalized in Utah with COVID-19.
The rolling seven-day average for positive tests is 399 per day, and 6,848 additional Utahns took tests since Wednesday and a total of 16,029 tests were administered. That puts the rolling seven-day average for percent positivity of tests at 3.4% when all results are included, and 7.1% when multiple tests by an individual over the past 90 days are excluded.