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Utah's governor extends mask mandate for state employees, properties

Posted at 9:46 AM, Apr 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-01 19:34:32-04

Governor Spencer Cox has extended the mask mandate for state employees — and state properties — until at least May 31.

In an email to state employees and shared with FOX 13, the governor's chief of staff announced that executive branch employees will continue to be expected to wear face masks at work, even after the statewide mask mandate is lifted in April 10.

"This is true even for employees who have been vaccinated," Jon Pierpont wrote. "Additionally, in light of the Legislature’s decision to terminate the statewide mask mandate, the policy gives executive branch employers discretion to require nonemployees – including customers and visitors – to wear face masks, with some limited exceptions. State agency leaders have also been instructed to take other measures to help maintain a healthy and safe working environment."

This means that state-run facilities like liquor stores, the DMV, driver license offices and Capitol Hill will still require masks of customers and employees.

The Utah State Legislature passed — and Gov. Cox signed — the COVID-19 "endgame" bill that lifts the statewide mask mandate on April 10. It also lifts other health restrictions as virus cases decline and vaccinations rise.

Some counties are contemplating whether to issue a new mask mandate, as the law allows.

But health officials have worried with the mask mandate being lifted of another surge in cases. In his email, Pierpont acknowledged that.

"We are closer than ever to normalcy but the pandemic is not over yet. As we accelerate our efforts to vaccinate every willing Utahn, all Utahns should continue to wear masks, practice physical distancing, and maintain good hygiene. All of us have made tremendous sacrifices since the beginning of the pandemic, and we are grateful for all of your efforts to keep each other safe throughout these trying times," he wrote. "Now, with the end potentially in sight, it is more important than ever that we remain steadfast in our efforts to stay healthy and safe."

At his weekly news conference, Gov. Cox defended his decision to require state facilities to keep a mask mandate in place while he allows the general public to remove them. He said the law allows for employers to continue to require masks, if they want.

"There’s a difference between government mandating it and then giving people the freedom and ability to choose that," he said. "As an employer, I felt like it was important for our workforce so that’s why I’m requiring it."

Read the governor's memo here: