Governor's directive and new Salt Lake County order advise residents to stay home
Stay Safe, Stay Home
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has issued a directive requesting that all Utahns “stay safe and stay home.” The measure re-emphasizes state recommendations the governor outlined earlier in March that are aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“The safest place you can be over the next couple of weeks is in your home,” Gov. Herbert said at a news conference. “We’re just going to have to be a little more homebound for the next couple of weeks. We have a moral responsibility to do what we can to slow down the spread of this coronavirus.”
The Salt Lake County Health Department also has issued a new public order in complement of the governor's directive. It, too, directs all individuals to stay at home except to engage in essential activities. Both have been extended and remain in effect through May 1.
The order and directive make clear that the state remains in the urgent phase of its three-tiered plan to address the coronavirus. The Utah State Economic Response Task Force put together the plan aimed at stopping the pandemic and outlining steps for Utah’s economic rebound. In the Urgent Phase, beginning March 16 and extending an estimated eight to 12 weeks, the state will coordinate its public health response with historic economic stimulus. The Urgent Phase is followed by a Stabilization Phase, lasting an estimated 10 to 14 weeks, and finally a Recovery Phase of eight to 10 weeks.
Mayor Kristie Overson said the City of Taylorsville fully supports the governor’s directive, Salt Lake County order and state plan. “As a city, we encourage everyone to follow the governor’s directive for the next two weeks so that we can quickly move to the stability and recovery phases that have been outlined,” she said.
“We appreciate the patience, kindness and caring that everyone has shown to each other during this challenging and uncertain time,” she added. “Right now, our foremost concern is the public health and safety of our community.”
The governor’s directive specifically calls for Utahns to take precautions in several areas, including:
- Stay home. All individuals should stay home as much as possible. Citizens should work from home whenever possible. Phone and video conferencing are encouraged.
- Continue social distancing. Individuals should continue to put at least six feet between themselves and another. They should not be attending gatherings of any number of people, the governor said.
- Protect high-risk individuals. This group includes people who are over age 60 and those with underlying health issues. Do not visit hospitals, nursing homes or other residential care facilities.
- No traveling. Do not engage in recreational travel. Leave home to travel only for emergencies and as infrequently as possible.
- Schools. The closure of school buildings to students will continue through May 1. Schools will continue to provide grab-and-go lunches but time at the school should be minimized.
- Restaurants. Prohibitions on dine-in seating will continue for the next two weeks. Restaurants will continue to provide carry out, pick-up and delivery services. “We know the hardest hit of all is the hospitality industry,” the governor said. “We ask that you be careful about dining in.”
- Recreation. Residents are still encouraged to exercise outdoors. Jogging, biking on a trail, or walking a dog are all acceptable activities, for example. If encountering another person outside, individuals must still maintain a distance of at least six feet. Do not congregate on trailheads, the governor said. Playgrounds should be avoided. State Parks will be available only to residents of the county in which the park is located. Utah leaders are still working with federal officials in making a decision on National Parks.
- Grocery shopping. Individuals should minimize trips to the grocery store and practice social distancing while there.
- Businesses. Employers should do everything they can to protect employees, the governor said. “We do not want them to be on the job if they are sick in any way.” Desks and office equipment should be spread out so that employees are not congregating.
In addition to the measures outlined by the governor's directive, the order by Salt Lake County formally closes children's playgrounds and certain businesses that act as gathering places. It also defines essential businesses that should do their best to comply with social distancing recommendations but due to the nature of their operations may be unable to fully comply and are therefore exempt from order enforcement.
Taylorsville City Hall will remain open to provide essential government services.
State law requires penalties for violating a local public health order. While penalties outlined by state code classify the offense as a misdemeanor (class B for the initial offense, class A for repeat offenses), Salt Lake County has asked local municipalities to enforce the public health order initially via warnings rather than citations. Repeat or egregious offenders may be cited and charged.
“If we don’t get this right, the other phases don’t really count much,” Gov. Herbert said. “We want to get this turned around in a matter of a few weeks rather than a matter of a few months.”
Mayor Overson agreed, encouraging residents to follow the governor’s lead. “Please do what you can to stay safe by staying home,” she said. “We care so much about our Taylorsville community and want everyone to stay healthy.”