CORONAVIRUS

Utah Lifts Limit On How Many Can Attend Private Gatherings; Mask Mandate Still In Place

Nov 23, 2020, 12:23 PM | Updated: 5:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah

State officials said they are not going to tell Utahns how many people they can have in their homes for Thanksgiving, but their safest advice is to stick to the people in your own household.  

Governor Gary Herbert and the state health department updated public health orders that were slated to expire at midnight.  

Herbert said the statewide mask mandate will continue, but the state will eliminate any restrictions on how many people you can have in your home. However, Herbert and state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said they will stick to their own households this Thanksgiving. 

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the state who doesn’t understand what we should be doing,” Herbert said in a teleconference Monday morning. “We just hope that they do it.”

Herbert announced a state of emergency on Nov. 8 that included a statewide mask mandate and limited the number of people who could attend private, social gatherings.

That order expires at midnight, and the restriction on how many people can gather will be lifted.

Utah Department of Health officials announced a few additional changes with the state’s new health order.

Click here for details on Utah’s health guidance levels.

State Promoting Best Practices

Two weeks ago, as Utah’s COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations skyrocketed, Utahns were ordered to eliminate large gatherings at home. Interim State Health Director Rich Saunders said that while the restriction on private gatherings is gone, the safest practice right now is to spend time only with people in your household. He said the guidelines were designed to balance individual liberties and our collective well-being. 

“Their aim is to protect lives and livelihoods,” said Saunders. “So I hope during this time that we can think about one another and what we can do as individuals in the name of a much higher good.” 

Local infectious disease experts and the CDC also advised that Utahns travel and gather only with those living in our immediate households. 

“You increase the risk when you bring people into your home that are from outside of the four walls of your house. That’s just a harsh reality of what the data shows us,” Herbert said.

If you gather anyway: “Practice physical distancing, whenever you can, and wearing masks even though you are among family and friends,” said Saunders.  

Hospitalizations this week reflect the rise in case counts in past weeks. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that people understand those risks and change or alter their Thanksgiving holiday plans accordingly so we don’t continuously have this surge of hospitals needing to alter the way they care for patients,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist. 

Dunn and Herbert said they have adjusted their Thanksgiving plans that typically involve larger crowds, and will only gather with those from their households. 

Saunders said that although the restriction on private gatherings are lifted, health officials are still promoting best practices, including keeping social gatherings to those who live within a single household.

The governor said he wants the state’s residents to have a safe Thanksgiving. He emphasized there is more risk for spread when there are more people from outside households invited to gather indoors in one place for an extended period of time.

Saunders said under Utah’s COVID-19 transmission index, larger public gatherings, such as live theater, sporting events, weddings or entertainment venues, there must be 6 feet social distancing between household groups for counties that are in the “High” transmission category.

At midnight, 26 of the state’s 29 counties will be in the “High” category. Only Dagget, Piute and Rich counties will be placed in the “Low” transmission category.

Mask Mandate Remains In Place

Although the restriction on private gatherings was lifted, the statewide mask mandate remains in place.

Saunders noted that masks are required in all counties, and they should be worn while in public indoors. Utahns should also wear them if they are in public outdoors and social distancing is not feasible.

Athletes and performers are exempt from the mask mandate while either playing or performing, and exceptions to physical distancing requirements may be granted by county executives, Saunders said.

Extracurricular Activities

Part of the previous health order also put a pause on extracurricular activities. Under the new order, beginning Nov. 30, all participants in high school extracurricular activities will be required to be tested for COVID-19 every other week. This will include coaches, trainers and staff.

Saunders said anyone who tests positive will not be allowed to participate in high school extracurriculars until they have completed their isolation period.

Additionally, participants in club sports, recreation leagues, dance studios, gymnastics gyms, volleyball gyms, etc., must be checked for symptoms and exposure before participating in any activities, including practices.

Business Quarantine Procedures

People who have been exposed to the virus will now have the opportunity to return to work sooner that previously required, Saunders said. The procedure is similar to the quarantine protocols that have been in place at Utah’s K-12 schools.

If an employee was exposed at the workplace, that person can be tested on Day 7 or later of the quarantine. If the test returns negative, the employee may return to work.

Saunders added that the business quarantine protocol is at the business owner’s discretion.

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus

FILE - Comirnaty, a new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination booster for COVID-19, is displayed at a pharmac...

Jen Christensen, CNN

The FDA tells COVID-19 vaccine makers to update shot to target newest variant

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it had advised the makers of the Covid-19 vaccines to formulate their new shots to be a better match for the JN.1 lineage of the coronavirus.

15 days ago

(FILE) A test dummy getting hit by an air bag during a crash test....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Thousands of cars equipped with faulty airbags on Utah roads as automakers issues ‘Do Not Drive’ warnings

Auto manufacturers have recalled over millions of Takata airbags because of their potential to explode and shoot out sharp metal fragments. And there are still thousands of those in cars across Utah.

18 days ago

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 03: Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy a...

Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

Fauci testifies publicly before House panel on COVID origins, controversies

Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing heated questioning from Republican lawmakers about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

19 days ago

A sign reminding Copper Hills High School students and staff to keep their hands clean during the c...

Lindsay Aerts

Utah school districts working to prioritize what stays when COVID relief money runs dry

Utah's school districts are working to figure out how they will continue to pay for programs propped up by COVID-19 relief funds.

1 month ago

FILE: Former Utah Jazz John Stockton reacts during a 76-70 Wichita State win over the Gonzaga Bulld...

Michael Houck

Former Utah Jazz star John Stockton sues Washington medical director about COVID misinformation policy

Former Utah Jazz superstar John Stockton has filed a federal lawsuit against Washington officials on First Amendment violations, arguing the state's policy of COVID-19 misinformation is unconstitutional.

3 months ago

Deer Creek Reservoir...

Alex Cabrero

State parks expecting another record visitation year, hiring more workers

It didn't matter how cold or snowy it was at Deer Creek State Park Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to stop Leonard Sawyer from taking his boat out to do a little fishing.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Utah Lifts Limit On How Many Can Attend Private Gatherings; Mask Mandate Still In Place