SALT LAKE COUNTY — The Salt Lake County Health Department and Mayor Jenny Wilson issued a public health order Sunday with "further protections" to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The order goes into place at 12:01 a.m. Monday. It includes closing certain businesses where people tend to gather or that involve close contact, requiring businesses to actively enforce social distancing (six feet), and specifies what types of businesses are to be closed and which types are considered "essential" and will be "open with conditions."
Businesses that will be ordered to close include:
- Hair, nail, and eyelash salons
- Barber shops
- Waxing/electrolysis providers
- Day spas and estheticians
- Permanent makeup
- Eyebrow threading
- Body art facilities (tattoo/piercing)
- Massage and tanning
- Swimming pools and splash pads
- Aquariums, zoos, aviaries, and museums
- Playgrounds and recreation centers
- Arcades, bowling alleys, and movie theatres
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Theatres and performance venues
- Indoor play centers
- Social clubs
It also closes children’s playgrounds and prohibits team sports, including pickup games. Outdoor sports courts and fields can remain open, for are to only be used by individuals or a group of people that reside in the same household.
"Residents are asked to responsibly enjoy recreational amenities by always maintaining 6 feet from people outside of their household," the order reads.
The new public order is also enforceable by law. According to a press release from the County, violating it would be classified as a class B misdemeanor (class A for repeated offenses), but the County has asked law enforcement to enforce it with warnings instead of citations. Repeated or "egregious" violations may be cited and charged, however.
State law requires penalties for violating a local public health order. While penalties outlined by state code classify the offense as a misdemeanor (class B for the initial offense, class A for repeat offenses), Salt Lake County has asked local municipalities to enforce the public health order initially via warnings rather than citations. Repeat or egregious offenders may be cited and charged.
“What we’re doing is we’re asking law enforcement, in the various jurisdictions in our county, to politely ask people to break up a small gathering, but if it is an egregious gathering to indeed take more serious measures in terms of citations,” Wilson told FOX 13 during an interview Sunday afternoon. “We do not want this to be a heavy handed order, what we’re asking for is compliance."
The new order goes into effect Sunday, March 29 at midnight and will stay in effect until 11:50 p.m. April 13.
Wilson hopes there is an end in sight to the pandemic and its difficult repercussions.
“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can see us in the summer getting back to some level of a new normal, but it’s going to take dedication and more time," she said. "It’s going to take action, and that’s what this order is intended to do."
She recognized that this order is not convenient for county residents, but urged its importance.
“This is the biggest community challenge we will face," Wilson said. “We know that this virus is aggressive and everyday matters, so if we are to comply now, if people take this seriously, do as this order mandates, we will save lives."
Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Gary Edwards echoed the mayor's sentiments or urgency.
“We are doubling our number of cases every three to five days. We have to get on top of that,” said Edwards. "We have seen from other countries that those that have had more severe social distancing measures get through this sooner than those that don’t."
With the issuing of the order, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced that she will repeal her fifth emergency emergency proclamation issued Friday and will sign a new one addressing city-specific issues.