NewsLocal News


Is it too early to reopen dining areas in Utah?

Posted at 6:36 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 20:36:46-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — This week, state and local leaders are expecting to release a clearer picture of what Utah will look like during the COVID-19 recovery.

In a plan to reopen the economy, Governor Gary Herbert suggested customers could dine inside restaurants by the first half of May.

"There are criticisms that that would be too soon. There is criticism that that is too long to wait,” said Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Gary Edwards in a press conference Friday.

When that happens, it won’t be how you remember it.

"This will not be a doors are open, every seat is filled kind of thing. It would be a gradual phase in,” said Edwards.

Edwards suggests restaurant employees would wear facemasks, there may be limits on dining capacity to ensure social distancing, and possible reservations to restrict wait times.

"The idea that we are going to put people into a confined indoor circumstance in a situation like that seems very premature,” said Dr. Brian Moench.

Dr. Brian Moench, director of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, believes loosening health orders in May would lead to a surge in new COVID-19 patients, one the state isn’t prepared for.

Early June or even July would be ideal for Utah, according to projections by epidemiologists at the University of Washington.

“The control of this, both from the standpoint of the economy and public health should be dictated by the real experts and that’s not politicians,” said Dr. Moench.