GRANTSVILLE — The situation in Kaysville was growing tense.
Mayor Katie Witt, in the middle of a run for Congress, was staunchly supporting a planned concert organized by Utah Business Revival, featuring country music star Collin Raye. But that stance ultimately pitted her against the local health department and her own City Council, as groups like Alliance for a Better Utah called on Witt to resign for supporting a mass gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, citing a lack of support in Kaysville, Utah Business Revival made that a moot point by moving the concert to a venue outside Grantsville in Tooele County.
The free concert is now slated for May 30 at 6 p.m. at The Amphitheater at Studio/Ranch — which can hold up to 10,000 people.
On KSL NewsRadio's Dave & Dujanovic morning show, Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne said he learned of the move Thursday morning, just as the media did.
"Certainly, it would cause us a little bit of concern," Milne said. "We all need to balance public safety with economic safety."
Hmmm 🤔... First we’ve heard of it here at #TooeleCounty.— Shawn Milne (@ShawnMilne) May 21, 2020
An event of that size - even under normal circumstances - would require a mass gathering permit. Timelines for review and permitting such a gathering would require more than the ten days until their proposed date.
Events with more than 1,000 attendees require a mass gathering permit, Milne said. He encouraged Utah Business Revival's Eric Moutsos to apply. "There's a process," Milne said. "We would just welcome him to follow the same process as anybody else."
In a news release Thursday afternoon, the Tooele County Health Department said it has not received a permit application from Utah Business Revival. "After an event is held without a permit it is possible for the health department to file charges against the property owner for allowing an unpermitted event to take place," the department said.
"Utah and Tooele County are doing a great job flattening the COVID-19 curve and we do not want to see a spike in COVID-19 cases come from an unapproved event like this."
For his part, Moutsos said earlier in the radio show that he won't pursue the permit or any other government approvals for the event.
"The reason why I don't (care) is when government oversteps, like health departments ... when they overstep their bounds, it's up to ‘we the people’ to push back," he said, "and to show them that we have our rights, and we have our responsibilities to provide for our families."
Moutsos said the amphitheater is a private property, "so we're not too concerned."
"We know we're not going to have the sprinklers turned on us," he said.
Witt said she's happy for Utah Business Revival, as the amphitheater is much larger than Kaysville's Barnes Park. "They can actually help more small businesspeople," Witt said. "So it's actually a win for them."
In a news release announcing the venue change, Utah Business Revival requested that people "be respectful to those who social distance" and to "feel free" to wear personal protective equipment.
Utah Business Revival played an organizing role in previous mass gatherings in Salt Lake City and Vineyard in defiance of state measures against COVID-19. Moutsos called those events "case studies" that resulted in "no spikes in COVID."
"So we should have an honest conversation and look at the truth behind this," he said.
On Wednesday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said that large gatherings might be possible in the state now, "but it does presuppose and requires that you follow certain social distancing requirements, screening of people that come to the event, having hand sanitizer, wearing of a facial mask."
"If that can't be met," Herbert said, "then it shouldn't happen."
Witt said she's planning to attend the concert, anyway.
"I have never met Collin Raye," she said. "It seems like it would be a great opportunity, so I am planning to go."
Contributing: Debbie Dujanovic, KSL NewsRadio