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Harmons will require masks, regardless of what Utah legislature says

Virus Outbreak Utah
Posted at 3:16 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 17:20:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY  — One of Utah's largest grocery store chains said it will continue to require customers to wear face masks, even if the state lifts its mandate on April 10.

In an email to customers, Harmons founder Bob Harmon and CEO Mark Jensen said they are doing it to protect their employees and customers.

"For now, Harmons will maintain its current COVID-19 safety practices, including the wearing of masks," the email said. "We are very proud of how far we’ve come in our efforts to keep everyone safe, and we intend to continue on that pathway. The majority of our associates have not yet had the opportunity to get vaccinated, and we will continue to focus on their safety as well as that of our customers."

Harmons was among the first businesses to require face masks of customers and employees at a time when then-Governor Gary Herbert resisted a statewide mandate and was only encouraging Utahns to wear them to slow the spread of novel coronavirus.

The company has also not been afraid to push back on decisions by the Utah State Legislature, allowing its grocery stores to be used as signature-gathering sites for a citizen referendum on a massive tax bill that hiked the tax on food (the legislature later retreated on tax reform efforts).

This time around, Governor Spencer Cox has backed private business decisions to mandate masks, even as he has told FOX 13 he will sign the COVID-19 "endgame" bill that will lift the statewide mask mandate. Utah has been trying to get as many people vaccinated as possible before the April 10 deadline.

"Like you, we are excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel as vaccinations roll out and cases continue to drop, but we aren’t quite at the finish line yet," Tuesday's email from Harmons to customers said. "We appreciate the support of Harmons customers during this difficult time and look forward to removing masks and barriers at an appropriate time. We still have a ways to go, but together we can get there."