Understanding Utah’s new State-of-Emergency order

What new restrictions are in place?
Under the Governor’s State of Emergency declaration, the follow restrictions are in place: 

  • Statewide mask mandate. 
  • Individuals should not gather socially with anyone they do not live with through November 23, 2020. 
  • Individuals may not attend social gatherings that do not have an event host, as defined in the executive order, through November 23, 2020. 
  • No organized extracurricular activities, including sports and intramural events.
    • This does not limit intercollegiate athletic events, or currently scheduled high school football practices and games that follow instructions for testing and limiting crowd size, as detailed in the order and guidelines provided by the Utah High School Activities Association. 
  • Require students enrolled at public and private colleges and universities, who either live on campus or attend at least one in-person class per week, to be tested for COVID-19 weekly. Testing is encouraged to begin as soon as possible, but must be implemented by January 1, 2021. 

Please refer to the Executive Order 2020-74. 

When do the restrictions go into effect?
The restrictions are effective at 1 p.m. November 9, 2020 and remain in place through November 23, 2020. 

The statewide mask mandate will remain in place for the foreseeable future, and does not expire when the State of Emergency expires. 

Why did the Governor issue a state of emergency?
COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout Utah. Hospitalizations and ICUs are nearing capacity and healthcare providers will be unable to care for Utahns in the coming days if this surge continues. The situation is dire and unsustainable. 

Data shows the large surge in cases began with young people aged 15-24 years when school and college campuses reopened. All ages are now showing large increases in cases. The majority of situations where spread is happening right now is from social gatherings like get togethers with friends and family and youth extracurricular activities. These are times when we let down our guard and are less likely to wear a face mask or practice physical distancing. As we approach the winter months, the danger of COVID-19 increases. Crowded places, close contact settings, and confined indoor spaces with poor ventilation increase the risk of spreading the virus. 

Hospitalizations and deaths follow weeks after a person is infected with COVID-19. We must take action now to protect our hospitals and healthcare workers and to avoid further devastation on our families, communities, and businesses.

Is this a stay-at-home order?
No. You can still go to work, school, church, shopping, etc. However, it is critical that you take as many precautions as you can to prevent further spread of COVID-19. 

  • Wear a face mask. 
  • Maintain physical distance anytime you are around people you do not live with. Stay home when you are sick, have symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days, are waiting for your test results, or have been asked to quarantine because you were exposed to COVID-19. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you do not have access to soap and water. 

Do these restrictions apply in restaurants and bars?
Masks must be worn in bars and restaurants unless you are actively eating or drinking. 

Six feet physical distancing between parties is required. Visiting bars and restaurants with people who do not live in your household is strongly discouraged before November 23, 2020. 

Bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. each night through Nov. 23, 2020. 

Is the COVID-19 Transmission Index still in effect?
The executive order overrides the COVID-19 Transmission Index through November 23, 2020, at which time the requirements in transmission index will resume. 

Will counties change transmission levels during the state of emergency order?
No. The requirements of the State of Emergency apply to all counties, regardless of their previous transmission level. 

Do the Governor and the Utah Department of Health have legal power to enact this?
Yes. The Governor and the Utah Department of Health have legal authority and power to issue these orders. 

  • Utah Code § 53-2a-209(1) provides that orders issued by the governor under Title 53, Chapter 2a, Part 2, Disaster Response and Recovery Act, have the “full force and effect of law”. 
  • Utah Code § 53-2a-204(1)(a) authorizes the governor to utilize all available resources of state government as reasonably necessary to cope with a state of emergency. Utah Code § 53-2a-204(1)(b) authorizes the governor to employ measures and give direction to state and local officers and agencies that are reasonable and necessary for the purpose of securing compliance with orders made pursuant to the Disaster Response and Recovery Act. 
  • Utah Code §§ 26-1-30(3), (5), (6), and 26-6-3 requires the Utah Department of Health to protect the health of the people within the state and control the spread of epidemic and infectious diseases. 
  • Utah Code § 26-1-10 gives the Utah Department of Health the legal power and authority to issue public health orders to fulfill these duties.

How will these restrictions be enforced?
Businesses are expected to enforce mask requirements with their employees and to promote mask wearing to their patrons, and visibly post signage to that effect. Any business that does not comply with the requirements of the emergency order could face penalties, including loss of their business license. 

The Utah State Board of Education and the Utah High School Activities Association will enforce the requirements on extracurricular activities. 

Individual colleges and universities will work with the Utah System of Higher Education to implement testing requirements on campuses. 

Local health departments and/or law enforcement agencies are authorized under state statute to enforce any element of a public health order. 

What does a “household group” mean?
Household group means everyone who lives together in the same home.

Face masks 

Is the entire state under a mask mandate?
Yes. Face masks are required in all counties. The mask mandate will remain in place for the foreseeable future, and does not expire when the State of Emergency expires. 

When are face masks required?
You must wear a face mask indoors and outdoors anytime you are within 6 feet of any individual from a different household. This means you must wear a face mask anytime you are around people you don’t live with. For businesses, this includes both employees and patrons

Executive Order 2020-74 

The State Public Health Order requiring masks in schools is still effective and can be found here: coronavirus-download.utah.gov/Governor/State-Public-Health-Order-UPHO-2020-11- v.2.pdf

What are the penalties for not wearing a mask?
You are subject to a fine. Businesses that fail to enforce employee mask wearing, promote patron mask wearing, or that do not post signs to that effect, are also subject to a fine by the Labor Commission. 

Are there exemptions for face masks?
Yes. Executive Order 2020-74 lists what settings or individuals are allowed face mask exceptions. 

At what age are masks required?
According to Executive Order 2020-74, children younger than 3 years of age are exempt from wearing a face mask. 

Do I have to wear a mask at the gym or while exercising?
Patrons must wear a face mask to enter or exit the building. You are not required to not wear a face mask while exercising outdoors or while exercising indoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from any other individual from a separate household. However, we strongly encourage individuals to wear a mask at all times if possible while at gyms or fitness centers. 

Social gatherings 

Can I attend a social gathering?
During the governor’s State of Emergency, you should limit your social gatherings to those you live with. When you have to be around people you don’t live with, masks and physical distancing are required. 

Does the mask mandate apply to social gatherings?
Yes. You must wear a face mask anytime you are within 6 feet of someone who doesn’t live with you. 

What does a social gathering mean?
According to Executive Order 2020-74, a social gathering means an in-person gathering (indoors or outdoors) of individuals from separate households. Social gatherings do not include a gathering for a primarily educational or religious purpose. 

People may not attend social gatherings unless they occur at a business or with an event host and people follow masking and distance requirements. 

Examples of such social gatherings are: 

  • Get-togethers with friends, families, or neighbors 
  • Celebrations of any kind that are not overseen by a formal organization (celebration of life events, baby showers, religious celebrations) 
  • Potlucks, BBQs, or dinner parties 
  • Book clubs 
  • Game nights 
  • Birthday parties 
  • Holiday parties 
  • Cultural celebrations (such as quinceañeras) 
  • Any other event where members from more than one household are present 

Are there any exceptions to the social gatherings restriction?
You may attend a social gathering if the social gathering has an event host as defined in the order or occurs at a business and the requirements of the event host are met.

What does an “event host” mean?
“Event host” means a person that owns, operates, provides facilities for, or has formal oversight over any of the following where a social gathering occurs: an amusement or water park, arena, aquarium, aviary, botanical garden, ceremony, cinema, comedy club, commercial event venue, commercial party venue, concert or concert hall, conference, convention or convention center, dance or dance hall, driver’s education training, fair or fairground, museum, organized athletic or sporting event, recital, stadium, theater, or zoo. 

What requirements must an event host follow?
An event host must: 

  • Require each individual attending the social gathering to wear a face mask, including in entrances and exits of the location. 
  • Require at least 6 feet of physical distance between individuals from separate households, unless the event host received a waiver according to State Public Health Order 2020-19 or State Public Health Order 2020-20
  • Post signage at the social gathering that lists COVID-19 symptoms, asks individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to stay home, and provides notice of face mask and physical distancing requirements. 
  • Complete and implement the requirements of the Event Management Template

Does “household only” restriction affect visitation when it comes to parents with shared custody of children?
No. Families need to follow the terms of their custody agreements. If they have concerns about these arrangements it needs to be addressed through legal means. 

How does the limit on social gatherings affect child care caregiving arrangements?
This order should not be interpreted to interfere with babysitting arrangements, child custody orders and arrangements, or caregiving arrangements. 

I have family members coming to visit from out-of-town or another state during the 2 week order. What should I do?
There are currently no COVID-19 travel restrictions in the state of Utah. Visitors to Utah or those returning home to Utah after traveling are not required to quarantine upon arrival. Visitors who are staying overnight at your home would be considered household members for the duration of their visit. 

Athletic and sporting events and extracurricular activities 

Can youth continue to play sports, through their school or recreation leagues with this executive order?
No. Organized athletic or sporting events (including games, practice, and training) and extracurricular activities are prohibited through November 23, 2020. 

After November 23, 2020 weekly testing of participants in high school sports will be implemented.

Do these restrictions apply to privately owned athletic-related businesses like dance studios, martial arts gyms, gymnastics studios, etc.?
Private businesses such as a dance studio, gymnastics studio, volleyball gym/club, indoor soccer area, karate studio, fitness gym, etc. are allowed to operate if they meet the following requirements: 

  • Attendance is limited to the participating athletes, coaches, trainers, staff members, and only 2 guests per attending athletes, coaches, trainers, or staff members. 
  • Athletes, coaches, trainers, and staff members must stay at least 6 feet away from other individuals. 
  • Spectators must wear a face mask. 
  • Spectators must stay at least 6 feet from people they don’t live with. 
  • Complete and implement the requirements of the Event Management Template

While athletes are not required in the order to wear a face mask while exercising outdoors or while exercising indoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from any other individual, it is strongly recommended that masks be worn at all times. 

Games, tournaments, recitals, and other gatherings where these requirements cannot be achieved are not allowed through November 23, 2020. 

Can city/county recreation facilities still be open to the public for exercising and recreation (this would include activities like group fitness aerobics classes, cardio equipment, weight room, etc)?
Yes, fitness centers, gyms, and recreation centers are still open for the public and members. Group fitness classes are still allowed. Facilities must ensure physical distancing of at least 6 feet between individuals who do not live with each other. Signage must be posted that lists COVID-19 symptoms, asks individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to stay home, and provides notice of face mask and physical distancing requirements

What does an extracurricular activity mean?
An extracurricular activity means an activity, course, or program that is: 

  • Not directly related to delivering instruction 
  • Provided, sponsored, or supported by a school or public or private institution of higher education 

Does this apply to intercollegiate athletic events?
No. Intercollegiate athletic events are still allowed, as testing protocols have already been adopted for college sports.

Are there any other exceptions to this restriction?
Yes. A high school football practice or game is allowed if all of the following requirements are met: 

  • Each participant including coaches, trainers, staff members, and athletes must wear a face mask. Athletes are allowed to take their face masks off while playing. 
  • Spectators are limited to the participating athletes, coaches, trainers, and staff members. In addition, each athlete, coach, trainer, or staff member is allowed to bring 2 guests only to games. 
  • Spectators must wear a face mask. 
  • Spectators must stay at least 6 feet from people they don’t live with. 
  • Coaches, trainers, staff members, and athletes must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours before the game. 

Why are high school football teams allowed an exception?
The high school football season is nearly complete and only a limited number of teams have games remaining. Strict safety protocols, such as testing requirements, mask requirements, and limitations on spectators will help ensure the remainder of the high school football season can be safely completed. 

Are gyms and fitness centers considered an athletic or sporting event or extracurricular activity?
Gyms and fitness centers are considered a business and must follow all of the restrictions for businesses. 

Does this mean that school activities such as plays, concerts, and recognition nights need to be canceled?
The Health Order specifies that extracurricular activities will not be held while the order is in place. 

Can afterschool clubs organized by non-profit associations or outside groups continue?
Non-profit organizations that facilitate after school clubs for the purposes of academic support or child care may continue to operate and should follow mask and social distancing guidelines. 

School and work 

Can I go to school?
Yes. K-12 schools will remain open for in-person learning. 

Schools should refer to the COVID-19 School Manual and Utah State Board of Education’School Reopening Planning Handbook for guidance on how to best protect students, teachers, and employees. 

The State Public Health Order requiring masks in K-12 schools is still in effect for all counties.

Why aren’t schools closing to in-person learning?
Schools play an essential role in the infrastructure and well-being of our state and our communities. Schools may remain open to in person learning in all transmission levels. 

Local school boards and school districts should work with their local health officer to determine when to move to a remote or hybrid learning model, depending on case counts and outbreak thresholds at the school or school district level. 

How does this apply to homeschool groups?
Social gatherings do not include a gathering for a primarily educational or religious purpose. Under the mask mandate, you must wear a face mask indoors and outdoors anytime you are within 6 feet of any individual from a different household. This means you must wear a face mask anytime you are around people you don’t live with

What restrictions are there for college and university students?
Students who are enrolled in a public or private institution of higher education (university or college) including a degree-granting institution or technical college, and who live in on-campus housing or attend at least one in-person class must get a COVID-19 test each week. Students who test positive should follow the isolation requirements they receive from their school and/or the public health department. 

Higher education will notify students how to receive a test and what documentation is required. 

Testing is encouraged to begin as soon as possible, but must be implemented by January 1, 2021. 

Can I go to work?
Yes. You should telework if at all possible during the governor’s State of Emergency. If it is not possible to telework, you need to take extra precautions at work: 

  • Wear a face mask anytime you are around people you don’t live with. 
  • Physical distance anytime you are around people you don’t live with. 
  • Stay home when you are sick, have symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive for COVID-19 or are waiting for your test results, or have been asked to quarantine because you were exposed to COVID-19. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you do not have access to soap and water. 

Should I be working from home?
Employers should allow employees to work from home as much as possible. It is important to let employees work from home if they are higher-risk individuals or take leave if they are sick or asked to isolate or quarantine.

Church and religious services 

Can I go to church?
Yes. 

Where do religious services fit into these requirements?
Faith-based organizations are encouraged to take steps to help limit the spread of COVID-19, such as: 

  • Allow for physical distancing (at least 6’) as much as possible. 
  • Face masks should be worn. 
  • Encourage participants to stay home when they are sick, have symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting test results, or have been asked to quarantine because they were exposed to COVID-19. 
  • And finally, encourage good hygiene through frequent hand washing. 

What about church youth groups or scouts?
Only formal religious services are exempt from the Executive Order 2020-74. If these activities are not formal religious services, gatherings should only be held with the people in your household (the people you live with). 

Businesses 

Are businesses still open?
Yes. Businesses are still open. 

What requirements do I need to follow for my industry or business?
All businesses, including bars and restaurants, must: 

  • Require employees and contractors to wear a face covering while at work.
  • Require patrons to wear a face mask. 
  • Require at least 6 feet of physical distance between household groups. For bars and restaurants, at least 6 feet of physical distance is required between parties.
  • Post signage at the social gathering that lists COVID-19 symptoms, asks individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to stay home, and provides notice of face mask and physical distancing requirements. 

What time do bars and restaurants have to close?
Bars and restaurants may not serve alcohol after 10:00 p.m. but are permitted to remain open.

I have an event like a wedding planned. Can I still have it?
This order does not apply to religious services which may or may not be applicable for an event like a wedding. 

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout Utah. Large gatherings have the potential to be super spreading events. Right now, it is safest to not gather with anyone outside of your household (people who do not live with you). You may attend a social gathering if the social gathering has an event host AND everyone in attendance wears a face mask AND everyone in attendance follows the physical distancing requirements. Household groups must be separated by at least 6 feet of distance at the social gathering. Event hosts are responsible for ensuring all requirements and restrictions are met. 

Do you have signage my business can use as required in the order?
Business signage is available at https://coronavirus.utah.gov/state-of-emergency/

If employees do not want to wear a face mask, can they wear a face shield instead?
Face shields are not a substitute for a face mask. Exemptions to the face mask mandate are listed in the order. 

Do employees have to wear a face mask at work even if they can stay at least 6 feet apart from other coworkers and do not interact with the public?
Businesses must require employees and contractors to wear a face mask while at work. If you are alone in a cubicle, office, or similar setting, you may remove your mask.

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