SALT LAKE CITY — Local authorities have created a way to report egregious violations of Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County's stay-at-home order, implemented to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Utah's most populous county.
The order, which urges people to stay home and only go out for essential travel (like work, grocery shopping and even a walk with appropriate social distancing) has been in effect for about a week now. Governor Gary Herbert has issued his own directive urging Utahns to stay home and exercise social distancing. On Wednesday, he issued a new executive order for people coming into the state to fill out travel declarations about COVID-19, and then urged Utahns not to travel the state for Easter or Spring Break.
At a news conference, Gov. Herbert was asked about people on the Capitol grounds enjoying the nice spring weather seemingly unconcerned with social distancing in the COVID-19 pandemic. It apparently did not escape the governor's attention.
"We're hopeful people will use good common sense and good judgment. We're not saying you can't be outdoors. We ask that you keep your social distancing," the governor said.
FOX 13 observed dozens of people out enjoying the sunny weather. Many made sure to exercise the appropriate distancing -- staying six feet away from others to help avoid spreading novel coronavirus. But around the blossoming trees that circle the Capitol, some people walked by unmasked and seemingly unconcerned.
The governor said that for the Capitol grounds, he might make the trail that runs through the cherry blossoms "one way" so they're not passing each other that often. He then deferred to Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who recently issued a health order that is in line with Salt Lake County's.
"We know that not everyone is following the order," she said.
The orders carry the potential for criminal charges, though no one has been cited, the mayor said.
Mayor Mendenhall said a lot of people are trying to comply with the orders. But like air quality measures, she said, not everyone will and some will egregiously go the other way. The mayor said people should feel free to report violations, but asked them not to call 911 (which is for actual emergencies).
The mayor's office referred FOX 13 to a website created to report potential violations to the Salt Lake County Health Department and the city.
It links to the Salt Lake County Health Department's site for reporting violations of many different health codes. Salt Lake City also has an online form for violations in public spaces it controls.
Police agencies have said they do not plan to issue citations, but will instead focusing on educating people about the health orders.