This Governor Didn't Want a Mask Mandate. Now He's Doing It

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has declared state of emergency, instituted new restrictions on COVID
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2020 11:54 AM CST
This Governor Didn't Want a Mask Mandate. Now He's Doing It
In this Sept. 22, 2020, file photo, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert walks through the Capitol rotunda to a COVID-19 briefing in Salt Lake City.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Utah has been seeing an alarming surge in hospitalizations in a week where COVID-19 records are being broken across the country. Now, the state's governor is taking further action to try to control the spread, declaring on Sunday night a state of emergency and putting in place new restrictions, including a step that the Salt Lake Tribune says he'd hoped to avoid: a statewide mask order. The new curbs also include limiting social gatherings to people who live in the same household, as well as nixing school extracurriculars, including sports. The restrictions begin Monday at 1pm local time and—except for the mask mandate, which will go on "until further notice"—will end on Nov. 23, the Monday before Thanksgiving. Businesses that don't follow the new mask rule will be subject to fines.

In a Sunday night tweet and video message, the GOP governor noted that "these changes are not shutting down our economy, but are absolutely necessary to save lives and hospital capacity." Then, per KSL, he made an emotional plea. "I ask you now, and I implore you, to do everything within your power to stop the spread of this disease," he said. "The day will come when we won't have to wear masks or social distance—when we will be able to see everyone we love and care about, and give hugs and handshakes without worrying about unknowingly spreading this disease." Churches aren't included in the order, and professional and college sports are also exempt, as long as they meet certain conditions. Bars, restaurants, and other businesses can also remain open, as long as they adhere to social distancing and other safety protocols. (Elsewhere, great news on the vaccine front.)

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