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Utah bans dine-in restaurant services for 2 weeks amid COVID-19 pandemic

(Ray Boone, KSL TV file)

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health, acting with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and the state's COVID-19 Community Task Force, issued an order Tuesday that banned all dine-in options at restaurants, bars and food establishments statewide for two weeks, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Curbside, drive-thru, delivery and pick up options are still allowed at food establishments across the state, Herbert said. The order begins on Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.

The state order also restricts gatherings of more than 10 people, just one day after the White House advised Americans to limit groups to that size.

“With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in our communities, we must take quick action to adjust and adapt in our daily lives to limit the spread of the virus,” Herbert wrote on Twitter. “We have not made this decision lightly.”

The order also created rules for restaurants to check employees for symptoms at the start of each shift.

Social distancing is crucial to slowing the spread of the disease and Utahns should still try and support local businesses while maintaining that distance, Herbert said.

“I know this will disrupt lives and cost jobs, and for that I’m very sorry,” Herbert wrote. “Still, I’m convinced this will save many lives, and I’m also convinced that Utahns will step up to help each other, and we’ll get through this together.”

Salt Lake County issued a similar ban on Monday for dine-in options at food establishments, this one lasting for at least 30 days — two weeks longer than the state's ban.

A ban for dine-in options at food establishments in Summit County was also issued earlier this week, lasting for at least 30 days as well.

The orders come as confirmed cases in Utah continue to increase.

The first positive case in Utah was confirmed on March 6, just hours after Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency in response to the virus.

The first case doesn’t include Mark Jorgensen, the St. George man who contracted the disease while aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and later came to Utah on Feb. 28 to recover.

Since then, cases in Utah have grown rapidly. By Sunday, more than 20 cases were reported and just one day later numbers neared 30.

The latest state totals for the disease were 52 on Tuesday, including residents and visitors. That's up from the 41 confirmed cases on Monday.

“I'm grateful for the steps each of you take to help this effort, and to take care of each other,” Herbert tweeted. “We will get through this together.”

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