Face coverings are now officially required in Grand County when social distancing is not possible, effective through at least Aug. 20.
The health order signed Tuesday, July 7 by Grand County Council Chair Mary McGann (on the approval of a 5-1 vote from the county council) requires masks be worn “in public areas, including any indoor space open to the public, where consistent social distancing of at least six feet is not possible, reasonable, or prudent.”
The order outlines eight exceptions, including for children two years old or younger, for persons with “a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability” that prevents them from wearing a face covering and for people seated inside restaurants.
The order makes Grand County the fourth Utah area to require masks in public spaces, following Salt Lake County, Summit County and Springdale, which all had previously put in place such orders.
Southeast Utah Health Department Director Bradon Bradford modeled the local order after those in Salt Lake and Summit counties, which have had mask mandates in place for two weeks. Last week, on June 2, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert approved Springdale’s request to require masks the same day he approved a similar request from Grand County.
Masks had already been required in Grand County for public-facing employees and workers who could not physically distance from their coworkers. The order continues this requirement and now requires businesses to post a notice that the health department will disseminate about the requirement.
Responding Tuesday to a set of concerns from Grand Tire Pros Manager Jeff Edwards regarding the mask requirement, Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan said that employers would not be held responsible for enforcing the mask mandate on customers.
Edwards also expressed concern about his employees being required to wear masks as they sometimes must work outside in the 100-degree desert heat of summer. Sloan responded by saying that people would only be required to use face coverings when they could not consistently stay six feet apart from others.
“Inside or outside, as long as you can maintain six feet from [everyone else] consistently, you don’t have to wear a mask,” Sloan said.
Bradford and others highlighted what made the mask order necessary, focusing in particular on the importance of allowing local businesses to remain open.
“This is a critical moment in Grand County and the State of Utah, and all county residents, businesses, community organizations, visitors, and government must do their respective parts to slow the transmission of COVID-19, enhance and improve the ability of our healthcare system to meet this mounting challenge, restore consumer confidence, and reduce the economic impact of this global healthcare crisis,” the order reads.
Recent reports from state media outlets in Utah suggested that Herbert was considering a statewide mask mandate, but no decision had yet been reported as of press time.