SALT LAKE CITY — With Utah closing in on a pandemic endgame, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox didn’t hold back Thursday, making an impassioned plea for residents to not be “jerks” to one another.
Speaking at his weekly COVID-19 briefing, Cox laid out the state's current success in battling the coronavirus, but asked that Utahns finish it out with class.
“Look, I know it’s been a really difficult year. And I know that these issues around the pandemic can and have been divisive,” said Cox. “But please, act with respect to your fellow human beings.”
Cox, in particular, focused his condemnation on Utah residents who still refuse to wear masks and act out when forced to wear one.
“If you go into a business and they are requiring you to wear masks, wear masks,” Cox said.
“Don’t yell at the clerk, don’t yell at the store manager. Don’t make a fool of yourself because you don’t want to wear a mask.”
While the state is targeting a date of April 10 to drop its mask mandate, Cox reiterated that masks will still be required in many locations, including restaurants and stores.
“Businesses absolutely have a right to require masks, and if you don’t like it, go shop somewhere else,” said Cox.
“Conversely, if you go into a restaurant and a table is closer to yours than maybe what you think, don’t yell at the waitress and tell her that you want people six-feet away from you.”
Promising his wife Abby that he wouldn’t use his “farm words,” Cox was blunt in his expectations of those who live and work in Utah.
“You don’t need to be a jerk to people that you come in contact with.”
Local restaurant owners were happy Cox had their backs.
“Mimicking or repeating what the governor says, I hope the respect thing comes into play as more and more places do take off the mask,” said Sean Miller, owner of Park Cafe.
Miller isn't sure when his restaurant will remove its mandate, but will definitely keep it for staff for a while longer.
“That's going to be something that's definitely touch-and-feel as we go,” Miller said. “With the masks right now, I think it does help customers feel more safe when they are being served by someone with a mask.”
Cox also had sharp words for those who choose to ridicule residents that stand on opposite sides of how to stay safe during the pandemic, especially those who vocally-oppose the wearing of masks.
“There are some people that will want to wear masks for much longer. Don’t mock them, don’t make fun of them. They’re likely protecting their lives and the lives of others.”
The governor believes what will help get Utah through the pandemic is doing it together, as a community and not every man, woman and child for themselves.
“We have to treat each other with respect, alright? This is not a free-for-all. We live in a society, we should care about each other,” said Cox. “And if you don’t care about other people, then don’t go to places where other people are.”
At the end of his comments, Cox also held himself responsible, admitting that he, like others, was wrong when it came to certain aspects of the pandemic.
“We’ve all made mistakes through this. We’ve all been critical of others when it turns out our side was wrong.”
“We could do so much better together.”