CEDAR CITY — A concert sponsored by activists opposed to coronavirus-related restrictions that was twice rejected in other parts of Utah will proceed in Iron County this weekend despite a recent spike in new COVID-19 cases.
Utah Business Revival founder Eric Moutsos said his group has grown frustrated with the nation’s willingness to shut down economic activity in response to the pandemic. The concert, which is expected to draw several thousand people, will take place amid recent pleas from Republican Gov. Gary Herbert and state health officials to take mask wearing and social distancing seriously.
Moustos said organizers have asked people to be respectful of those who want to social distance. He said he hopes the concert sends a message that many Utah residents are tired of government interference.
“We’re just trying to be as patriotic as we can and push back against a very confused government,” said Moustos.
The concert, which will feature Nashville-based country singer Collin Raye, was approved Monday by the Iron County Commissioners to take place at the Iron Springs Adventure Resort on Saturday.
Commissioners released a statement saying the venue will have “ample room” for people to social distance. They advised anyone at risk or over the age of 65 not to attend.
“It is important that all of us take seriously precautions aimed at reducing the spread of this disease,” commissioners said. “It is also important that we take steps to allow businesses and families a chance to recover.”
The concert was originally going to be held in Kaysville until residents and the City Council pushed back, arguing they didn’t feel like the community’s best interests were being considered when Mayor Katie Witt made the decision to allow it.
The event was then moved to an amphitheater in Tooele County, but the health department issued an order to close the venue followed by an injunction that restrained the venue from holding a concert.
We’re just trying to be as patriotic as we can and push back against a very confused government.
–Eric Moutsos, Utah Business Revival
The move to Iron County comes after the Southwest Utah Public Health Department announced the region is experiencing a surge in new cases. It had 100 cases as of May 1, but the count surpassed 600 by last Monday with over 50 hospitalizations, The Spectrum reported.
A statewide spike in cases began over Memorial Day weekend and was likely caused by more people gathering while disregarding social distancing guidelines, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said Thursday.
Utah is among many states with rising cases, according to an Associated Press analysis. There have been over 13,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in Utah and 139 deaths, according to state figures.
Moustos said several hundred masks will be available for anyone who wants to wear one. There will be hand washing stations, as well as hand sanitizer for the over 90 businesses setting up booths at the event.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Sophia Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.