SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson had a simple comparison when speaking about the new health order requiring all in Salt Lake County to wear face coverings while out in public.
“You can’t run into the grocery store without shoes on,” she said Thursday night. “... This is nothing new.”
For plenty of people, though, it will feel plenty new.
As the coronavirus pandemic has continued, there have been numerous references to a “new normal.” For Salt Lake and Summit Counties, the new normal will come this weekend.
"The goal of the requirement is not enforcement or to penalize anyone; the goal is to send a strong, clear message about the gravity of our current COVID circumstances and the importance of face coverings in effectively addressing this concerning data,” Wilson wrote on Twitter.
When do the health orders go into place?
In both Salt Lake and Summit Counties, masks became required in public places starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning.
In Summit County, the public order had tentative been set to go into effect Monday evening, but the county council unanimously approved moving it up to this weekend.
Summit County’s health order has been approved through at least September 1.
In Salt Lake County, the health order runs through at least July 3.
Where will people have to wear masks?
Salt Lake County’s order states mask must be worn in “public areas where consistent social distancing of at least six feet is not possible, reasonable, or prudent.”
The county chose to leave it a bit up to interpretation to allow common sense to rule, but Wilson gave some specifics on Friday.
She said masks should be worn while in public gatherings (indoors or out) when consistent social distancing is not possible. She also said that masks should be worn while waiting outside retail and other public locations, including restaurants.
Summit County’s order is a bit more specific, requiring face masks in lines and inside public places, in workplaces where food is prepared or packaged, in all health care settings, or where there is any interaction with the public.
For restaurants, people must wear coverings as they wait to be seated. The health orders allow for patrons to remove masks to dine.
Summit County Council Chair Doug Clyde said it was “going to be a dramatic and life-changing event for the residents of Summit County.”
Are there any exceptions?
Both county officials have made it clear the health orders have been put in place to protect people, not to hurt them. With that the case, there are exceptions to the new mask rules.
Wilson said face coverings will not be required when people are outdoors and social distancing is easily maintained; for individuals with a health condition who would be harmed by a face covering; or for children under the age of 2.
People won’t need to wear a mask if it prevents them from performing job functions.
Wilson said masks won't be required while swimming or engaging in strenuous physical activity.
In Summit County, children age 2 years or under won’t be required to wear masks. Those with conditions where a face covering would be considered harmful — be it a health condition, disability, or a work environment — are also exempt from the requirement.
What is the penalty for not wearing a mask?
In Summit County, the penalty will be an infraction — which is about on par with a traffic ticket.
Salt Lake County stated that prosecution will be reserved for those who blatantly and intentionally disregard the health order. Enforcement, then, will focus on helping people understand the requirement — not punishing them.