Salt Lake County officials 'strongly encourage' face coverings at reopened businesses

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Salt Lake County officials 'strongly encourage' face coverings at reopened businesses

By Graham Dudley, KSL.com | Updated - Apr. 29, 2020 at 6:28 p.m. | Posted - Apr. 29, 2020 at 10:35 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County officials Wednesday announced precautionary measures businesses must take as they move to reopen starting this Friday, May 1, when the state transitions to the next phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan.

Restaurants, personal services, gyms and entertainment venues may all reopen under restrictions under the county's plan, but Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Gary Edwards said in a morning news conference that residents should wear face coverings at each location.

The coverings should only be removed for activities like active eating and exercising, Edwards said.

"We still need to stay at home as much as possible," he added. "If you feel sick, you must stay home."

"We can't go from zero to 100," said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, adding that even though businesses may be allowed to reopen, she hopes some of them will "take their time."

"The virus will be with us for some time," Wilson said. "As businesses open, they will need to operate differently. And customers will need to take precautions as well. Face masks, social distancing and sanitizing will be required."

Wilson said masks will be required at all businesses "that interact with the public."

"How many of you have gone to a home repair store or convenience store lately and seen many people not wearing face coverings?" she asked. "This needs to stop."

A county spokesperson reached out later Wednesday to clarify that, despite the tough rhetoric, masks will be "strongly encouraged" but not required for retail customers and people in public places. Retail employees and customers receiving personal services like haircuts, though, will indeed be required to wear a mask.

The clarifications are meant to more closely align with the Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan, which contains statewide guidance on mask use and reopening procedures.

The spokesperson directed Utahns to CDC guidance on how to make homemade masks.

In addition to specific business guidelines, Edwards said gatherings of up to 20 people may now happen with precautions. That includes weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies; activities like team sports are still prohibited and playgrounds are still closed, he said.

The typical 6-foot social distancing guidelines will expand to 10 feet at gyms. Customer groups at dine-in restaurants will be limited to six people, Edwards said, and personal services like barbershops and day spas will operate on an appointment-only basis.

Edwards encouraged county residents who don't have a mask to use a bandana, old T-shirt, or any other cloth material as a face covering.

The state on Tuesday announced an effort to supply masks to Utahns who don't have one.

Industry-specific reopening information is available on the Salt Lake County website.

Wilson announced the Salt Lake County Government Center will begin to reopen on May 11, but with only 25% of employees returning in person.

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