As you are likely aware, the statewide mask mandate will be lifted on April 10, in accordance with H.B. 294 – Pandemic Emergency Powers Amendments. The bill outlines when mask mandates and other COVID-19 related public health orders will phase out, and the processes by which local and county governments can continue mask orders and other emergency provisions in their specific counties.
The bill states that a county government may extend a mask mandate past April 10th until:
- The state’s 14-day case rate falls below 191 per 100,000 people. (176.7 per 100,000 as of 4/6)
- Intensive care units are no more than 15% filled with COVID-19 patients over a seven-day average. (9.5% as of 4/6)
- The federal government has allocated 1,633,000 first doses of the coronavirus vaccine to Utah. (992,325 as of 4/6)
The State has currently met the first two factors — we hope case rates remain low and this continues. Counties may continue a mask order until the third factor, vaccine allocation threshold is met.
Although no county has indicated an intent to extend this mandate beyond April 10th, Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall has issued an executive order extending the mask mandate within Salt Lake City.
From the onset of the pandemic, the Salt Lake Chamber has encouraged businesses to follow public health guidance to protect employees, customers and the community, and we have advocated for policies that will best help businesses successfully continue their operations and bolster the economy. With the lifting of the mask mandate, we reiterate that position.
The removal of a statewide and county mask mandate means that no business is required to continue to enforce those orders, however, we know that many businesses will want to continue the practice. As we move into this new phase, the Chamber encourages businesses to communicate clearly with employees and patrons about expectations and engage with continued kindness, patience and respect toward all.
The Chamber has received the following questions regarding the continued use of masks by businesses:
Can I require customers, employees, vendors, etc. to wear masks inside my business?
- Yes, private businesses have the right to keep the mask requirements and any other health guidelines or business-specific policies in place if they choose.
What are some best practices for enforcing mask requirements in my business?
- Communicate ahead of time your decision to continue mask requirements with employees, customers and vendors. Depending on the size of your business, this can be done personally or through more formal means, such as social media, websites, newsletters and other media.
- Display signage indicating mask requirements at your business.
- If someone enters without a mask, encourage them to follow your policy and have masks available for those who may not have them.
What are my options if a customer refuses to comply with our mask requirement?
- If your local government still requires a mask, kindly inform customers of the regulation and provide a mask, if needed.
- If wearing a mask is not required by your local government, but is a policy for your business, remind the customer of your policy and ask them to comply and be willing to share the reasons why your business is asking for compliance.
- If the customer refuses to comply, provide them an alternative option, such as shopping online or by phone.
- If the customer refuses to comply, you may proceed as you would in enforcing any other policy you might have in place for your establishment, such as a requirement to wear a shirt and shoes.
While the statewide mask restriction will soon be lifted, that does not mean that the pandemic is over. To reach that point, we encourage you and your employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible. For now, the Utah Department of Health continues to promote masks as an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the Chamber continues to encourage you to do what is best for your business and to utilize the guidance set forth on coronavirus.utah.gov and in the COVID-19 Business Manual.