COVID-19 early response prompts Utah lawmaker to draft bill protecting religious and personal liberties

In this 2019 file photo, people arrive for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' two-day conference in Salt Lake City, April 6, 2019 | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — In March 2020, the world seemingly shut down as state leaders rushed to keep Utahns safe from the quick-spreading and largely mysterious novel coronavirus. As part of the response, church services were limited and family members were unable to visit loved ones at health care facilities.

According to a report from KSL News, nearly a year later, a state lawmaker is trying to prevent that from ever happening again with a proposed bill that he says will protect religious and personal freedoms, even in states of emergency.

Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi, is the sponsor of Protection of Personal and Religious Liberty, designated as HB 184 in the 2021 Utah Legislature, which would block health departments from limiting religious exercise or the entry of a church. It also prohibits a health care facility from barring individuals from seeing at least one family member or spiritual advisor at a time.

“This is not to say anything negative about our health care facilities or our health care workers; I know that everyone … has worked very, very diligently to do the right things, but we just feel strongly (about) that right to be able to have those emotional connections,” Maloy said.

Taking the proper health precautions would still be permitted under the current language of the bill and facilities would be allowed “to do everything to make sure everybody’s kept safe,” Maloy said, but they will not be permitted to ban visitors altogether.

“It’s not to say we can’t do recommendations or put the right things in place to keep people safe, but just doing it without shutting those places down,” he said.

In a written statement, the Utah Department of Health said it was reviewing the bill and would address any potential concerns with Maloy.

Read the full story here:  KSL News.


For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2021 Utah Legislature here.

Copyright 2018

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