Gov. Gary Herbert imposes new emergency restrictions

SALT LAKE CITY – With the general election over, Utah’s lame duck governor has now decided to take drastic steps to reduce the state’s skyrocketing rates of coronavirus infection.

Gov. Gary Herbert took to the airwaves Sunday evening to declare a new state of emergency in response to Utah hospitals nearing their capacity to deal with new COVID-19 patients.

While emphasizing that “Utah is still open for business,” the governor imposed four statewide restrictions taking effect immediately and lasting for the next two weeks.

Those emergency measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus are a statewide mask mandate; a ban on all casual social gatherings with anyone other than immediate family members; a postponement of all sporting events and extra-curricular activities with the exception of playoffs, championship games and intercollegiate athletics; and an enhanced regimen of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Herbert’s announcement came as the Utah Health Department’s weekend reports of COVID-19 infections averaged more than 2,500 new cases for Saturday and Sunday.

Health officials also report that 424 Utahns are now hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, bringing the total number of statewide hospitalization since the pandemic began to 6,084.

After months of urging Utahns to do the right thing voluntarily in terms of observing health precautions, Herbert announced that the new restrictions would have teeth for the first time.

“By order of my office and the Utah Department of Health, Utahns may not host casual social gatherings … for the next two weeks, which is the incubation period of COVID-19,” Herbert said. “Further, it should be known that we will not tolerate public gatherings that do not exercise appropriate safety precautions in terms of social distancing and mask wearing. State and local authorities will prosecute and hold accountable those who sponsor and organize such events and gatherings. Those organizers will be subject to fines of up to $10,000 per occurrence.”

The governor stressed that recent data indicates that Utahns are most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection during casual social gatherings with persons outside their own households.

“Our data also show that individuals aged 15 to 24 have not been careful in casual social gatherings because the highest rates of infection are now occurring among this age group,” Herbert added.

The two-week postponement of most high school activities, according to Herbert, will give state officials time to immediately prioritize the testing of student athletes involved in playoff and championship games, plus put in place a robust process of testing student athletes involved in other winter sports and activities.

“Our public health teams will also significantly expand our COVID-19 testing efforts during this two-week period and beyond,” the governor explained. “We will test those individuals who have symptoms and launch targeted testing of those who do not have symptoms. This will begin with weekly testing of our university students and expand to include high school students who participate in extracurricular activities, people in the workplace under the age of 35 and high school teachers. We will also expand the role of the National Guard in contact tracing.”

Herbert emphasized that state health officials agree that a statewide economic shutdown is not needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Let me be clear …” he said. “You can still shop, dine-in, carry-out, exercise, worship and many other things … But the wearing of masks and exercising every precaution (for the next two weeks) when it comes to gatherings with others, including social distancing, is crucial.”

The governor concluded his emergency address by promising that state officials would soon provide Utahns with safety recommendations for upcoming holiday gatherings.

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9 Comments

  • Blayne November 9, 2020 at 8:13 am Reply

    Are you kidding me? “All high school sports canceled. Well, uh, except football playoffs. I just wasn’t to see my grandson play, he’s worked so hard for this moment”. You can’t pick and choose which events the coronavirus will attend. It doesn’t work that way. And apparently college football is a safe haven too. What a joke.

  • Brandy Anderson November 9, 2020 at 1:25 pm Reply

    Though I appreciate the news of what the mandate is- I dont appreciate the unprofessional behavior of ‘lame duck’ governor. Keep your name calling to yourself. Lame duck or not- he does not deserve to be called that in a news setting.

    • Don November 9, 2020 at 4:36 pm Reply

      It isn’t name calling. Herbert is a lame duck. That is the technical term for it. Politicians often do more drastic things after their successor has been elected. They will be gone soon and can do whatever they want, knowing they will face no repercussions from voters.

  • Joseph Smith November 9, 2020 at 2:35 pm Reply

    I don’t think the term “lame duck” is name calling. I may be wrong, but I think it is a reference to a politician who holds office when a successor has been chosen. That being said, if there was name calling to be in order…I think this might be the time. The lack of leadership in our county, state and on the federal level is almost criminal.

  • Deedee November 9, 2020 at 10:37 pm Reply

    Very worrisome how power hungry he is. Why have people live in fear? What is the motive? His behavior does not add up. Is he getting money for this? Totally unconstitutional!!!

    • Barnabus November 10, 2020 at 12:00 pm Reply

      Come now Deedee, we all know this is just a hoax. Actually, it is a hoax until a loved one dies then it is the kungflu sent by the evil chicoms.
      I will ask you, where and in the what part of the constitution is the mask mandate violating? You are required by law to wear shoes and and shirt for service where food is served. Please explain to me how this different. Then you are required by law not to go running around in public with your vjj flapping in the wind. Isn’t that unconstitutional? Aren’t your freedoms being violated by that?

      In all honesty, I am extremely disappointed that the rest of the world and all those inconsiderate sick people here in the US did not get the memo that the election is over. Therefore, covid should just rapidly dissipate and vanish from the earth, because it was just a ploy by the evil democrats. How dare they not listen to Tucker Carlson and Rush Linbaugh. Why is the virus still here, is it the deep state in conjunction with the skulls that are keep it around for world domination. Maybe Antifa is cooking up new batches in Portland! I am scared because I have been enlightened to the truth provided by infowars, Oann, and the redstate. I feel paranoid knowing all this secret squirrel stuff like the Clintons running a pedo ring out of a pizza shop in D.C. What are we going to do Deedee, please give us a solution, because I would love to hear one. I have been praying for months to no avail. What do we do?

      • Free Bird November 11, 2020 at 3:47 pm Reply

        Honestly, you think the election is over? 🙂

        You obviously know nothing about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Detrick , nor do you nothing about the CIA.
        Here is some food for thought…

        https://oathkeepers.org/2020/11/america-in-limbo-due-to-2020-election/

        • Barabus November 15, 2020 at 5:29 pm Reply

          I know that you would be better off watching day time soap operas as you are obviously bored out of your mind.
          Maybe you should set out and prove the Earth is flat. There is as much evidence out there that the Chinese engineered the covid 19 virus and released it as there is evidence of voter fraud in the US election.

          The election is over and we have a new president. It will not be formal until December 15th, but just to show you that I am a sporting chap. If Trump is certified to be the next president next term, I will donate $500 to the cache valley food pantry. Are you willing to do the same if it is Biden?

  • prince albert November 10, 2020 at 12:55 am Reply

    I broke King Gary’s law 5 times today. Fa Q Gary.

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