Restaurants prepare for final COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted

Posted at 5:19 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 19:42:04-04

SALT LAKE CITY — All COVID-19 public health orders, except the mask mandate in schools, could be lifted as early as this week, spokesperson for Utah’s COVID-19 Unified Command, Joe Doughterty, said.

As part of the ‘COVID-19 Endgame’ bill, health orders will be lifted as soon as Utah hits a 14-day case rate below 191 per 100,000 people, ICU hospitalization averages less than 15% specifically for virus patients, and 1.63 million people receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state is expected to hit the final requirement, vaccine doses, as soon as this week, Doughterty said.

WATCH: Utah may be a few weeks away from lifting COVID-19 restrictions

“Because the state will not be making these requirements it's on us individually to protect those around us.”

There are not many health orders remaining after the statewide mask mandate was lifted last month, but under the law distancing requirements for bars and restaurants as well as mask requirements for events over 50 people will be lifted.

“We are not out of the woods yet but there is just more responsibility on each individual and each business to do their part now,” Doughtery said.

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Under the law, all remaining mask mandates will be lifted. A spokesperson for the Salt Lake City Mayor’s office said the emergency order mask mandate will be lifted when the requirements are met.

“When the metrics identified in HB 294, the legislature’s “endgame bill,” are met, the city’s emergency order is no longer effective. The city will still require masks in all city facilities, and will continue encouraging people to wear life-saving masks while COVID remains a risk to public health,” the spokesperson said.

Without restrictions, the owner and chef of Arlo Restaurant in Salt Lake City said he is excited to start seeing his restaurant be able to function more as he envisioned it. Although, they are going to be taking a slow and cautious approach to it, Milo Carrier said.

“We will be able to increase our capacity for guests, so that will allow us to serve more guests, turntables more quickly and then have more staff,” he said.

WATCH: Utah's governor signs COVID-19 'endgame' bill lifting statewide mask mandate April 10

The pandemic hit as Carrier was beginning construction on the restaurant. Despite challenges, the restaurant opened but not at full capacity.

“The reality is we have to serve a certain amount of guests every night just to be viable and there were times that was even questionable,” Carrier said.

Masks will likely still be required and even without mandated restrictions, Carrier said they want to be careful and cautious.

READ: Utah's mask mandate to end: What does it mean for you?

“I am curious to see if guests are really willing to come sit in a restaurant that is packed with patrons in close proximity to each other,” he said.