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Hundreds spend Easter Sunday at Capitol; Visitors frustrated by lack of social distancing

Posted at 9:10 PM, Apr 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-12 23:28:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Blooms at the State Capitol drew hundreds Sunday, leaving many Capitol goers frustrated by a lack of facemasks and social distancing.

Having a picnic, flying kites, taking pictures or just taking a stroll – the scene at the Capitol grounds Sunday was nothing shy of busy. Even the Easter bunny couldn’t stay away, greeting a large group of family members on the front lawn.

“We needed to see these [cherry blossoms] in bloom and do the walk, so we finally did it, even though we thought there would be a lot less people,” said Mark Gollaher as he did the rounds with his brother and friend. “We’re just social distancing and walking the walk and enjoying the beautiful Easter Day.”

Mark and his two friends were among the masses enjoying the grounds. However, they were among the few wearing facemasks.

“There’s only about 15 percent of the people wearing a mask,” Mark estimated.

Aside from a lack of masks, they voiced frustration with an apparent lack of social distancing.

“I was getting a little cabin fever and I thought I’d come out. Had I known how many people, I don’t know if I would have come,” said Mark’s friend Lisa McDonald.

Ahead of the Easter weekend, state leaders put one-way signs in place around the loop at the capitol in the hopes of allowing people to see the cherry blossoms, while making it easier for visitors to maintain social distancing. Many appeared to ignore the new signage.

“I’ll veer off the path and stuff [to avoid people], I’m pretty serious about staying well,” Lisa said. “A lot of people, it appears they may not be as concerned.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall previously said residents were allowed to take walks and recreate outside, so long as they maintain six feet of space. A sentiment that was later echoed by Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.

“I just hope people will go the extra mile and do the right thing,” said Mark.

Salt Lake City has set up a website where residents can report egregious violations of the stay safe, stay home order.

Wilson said violators could face misdemeanor charges as well as fines. However, Wilson and various police agencies have said the goal is not to issue citations, but instead educate people about the health orders.