January 7, 2022
Salt Lake County Health Officer Issues 30-Day Mask Order
Nicholas Rupp -
Today, Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Dr. Angela C. Dunn issued a public health order requiring people in Salt Lake County, regardless of vaccination status or past COVID-19 infection, to wear respirators, such as KN95s, when indoors (or queueing outdoors) in public.
The order, #2022-01, is in response to the record-breaking surge of the Omicron COVID-19 variant; it takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, January 8, 2022, and is currently planned to be in force until 5 p.m. on Monday, February 7, 2022.
“We desperately need to use every tool available to ensure our hospitals can continue providing excellent healthcare through this surge,” said Dr. Dunn. “We also need to ensure that our essential services have the staff necessary to operate—from law enforcement, to plow drivers, to schoolteachers. It is my obligation as health officer to take the action I believe has the best chance to prevent unnecessary suffering throughout our community.”
Exemptions to the order include:
- Individuals under two years of age and those with medical conditions, impairments or disabilities that prevent wearing a mask.
- Individuals engaging in work where they are alone and individuals for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the individual related to their work as determined by local, state or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
- Individuals seated at a restaurant or other food/beverage establishment while they are actively eating or drinking.
As with Salt Lake County mask orders issued earlier in the pandemic, education about the purpose of the order and supplying a mask to individuals in violation will be the primary method of enforcement.
The purpose of this order is to protect public health and our critical industries’ staffing, not to hold someone criminally liable. Health officials are asking businesses and operators of other public spaces to enforce this order as they do any other social-behavioral expectations that exist for their establishment.
The complete order will be available at SaltLakeHealth.org by 3:00 p.m. today.
Edited January 12 to note that the order requires respirators, not cloth masks; cloth masks are acceptable under the order until the wearer can obtain a respirator.