Utah legislature ends mask mandates, moves toward halting COVID-19 testing in schools

Posted 115 days ago


Utah's state legislature on Friday ended mask mandates for Salt Lake and Summit Counties by a 45-29 vote. All 45 votes in support of the repeal were provided by Republicans, and the 17 Democrats who opposed were joined by 12 Republicans who voted to keep the mandates in place.

"I understand many people are looking for ways to combat this omicron surge. I understand many people want to bring about an end to this pandemic. Doing something for the sake of doing something is not a good enough justification," said GOP state Rep. Candace Pierucci.

Masks are no longer required by law, but businesses are free to require customers to wear masks at their own discretion.

The sudden overhaul of county regulations on COVID-19 precautions angered some politicians who urged Utah citizens to continue masking, regardless of mandates.

"In spite of the misguided actions of the legislature today, please continue to wear good quality masks while in public," Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said in a statement. "We are at very high rates of COVID spread, and we are hopeful to have the omicron variant of the virus behind us soon. Health experts agree masks worn properly help contain the spread of COVID. Let’s all help keep our teachers teaching, our students learning, our hospitals operating and our residents healthy."

Utah's legislature is also positioned to end the mandatory Test to Stay Program outlined in Utah Senate Bill 107, a policy that requires students to regularly produce negative COVID-19 tests and schools to close down after a low threshold of cases is reached.

The legislature has wrestled with the program for weeks. Utah's lawmakers previously banned remote learning for mor... (Read more)