Governor said he will sign bill that ends statewide mask mandate on April 10

Stock image. | Photo by kovop58, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — The statewide mask mandate will be lifted by April 10 under a bill that passed the Utah State Legislature in the final hours of the 2021 session and Gov. Spencer Cox indicated he will sign.

FILE – In this July 7, 2020 file photo, Utah Republican Lt. Gov Spencer Cox arrives for a press conference at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City. After beating former Russian ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. in the primary, Cox is expected to breeze to victory against his Democratic opponent to become the state’s new governor and take over for his boss, Gov. Gary Herbert, who held the seat for more than a decade. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

The bill — dubbed by its sponsor the “COVID-19 endgame” — sets metrics for lifting health restrictions. It was carefully negotiated between the legislature, Utah’s Department of Health and Cox.

In an interview with FOX13Now, Cox said he would be willing to sign it.

“It’s much better than it was. The original version of the bill had the mandate ending immediately. This was a big push for us,” he said. “Look, we’re vaccinating 25,000 people every day. We want to get through the most vulnerable, we will be through the most vulnerable by April 10 so we feel much better about the bill.”

HB 294‘s final version said other restrictions can begin to be loosened once Utah hits 1.63 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the 14-day case rate is less than 191 per 100,000 and the state’s ICU hospitalization rate is less than 15% on a seven-day average.

The mask mandate would be lifted April 10. However, the bill now allows the mandate to remain for gatherings with crowds above 50. County governments would be able to adopt their own mask mandates as well.

The bill also keeps in place the mask mandate for K-12 schools, leaving it to the Utah Department of Health to decide when it would be rescinded there.

It also does not restrict businesses from requiring them. National store chains like Walmart and Kroger, the parent of Smiths markets, have thus far maintained the requirement for masks in their stores in states like Texas that have rescinded their mask mandates.

The House voted overwhelmingly for the bill while simultaneously rejecting other efforts to lift the mandate immediately. It was Senate Republican leaders who indicated they were uneasy with the bill and questioned its need, as Utah was doing well with vaccine adoption.

File photo of a masks required sign outside Smith’s Market on Bluff Street in St. George, Utah, seen on Nov. 6, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“We didn’t legislate our way into the pandemic,” said Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, who later added: “I’m not in favor of trying to legislate our way out of this.”

But on Friday night, they came around and backed the bill.

Senate Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City raised concerns about the bill, pointing out the pandemic is not over.

“Certainly we’re going to be making decisions based on science,” she said.

All of Southern Utah’s legislators in both the House and Senate voted for the bill.

St. George News Weekend Editor/reporter Chris Reed contributed to this story.

Read the full story here:

Written by BEN WINSLOW,

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.

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.

Check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Southern Utah coronavirus count (as of March 6, 2020, seven-day average in parentheses)

Positive COVID-19 tests: 27,045 (45.1 new infections per day in seven days, falling since March 4)

  • Note: Southwest Utah Public Health Department has not updated county numbers since Wednesday.
  • Washington County: 20,189 (29.3 per day, falling)
  • Iron County: 5,036 (11.7 per day, falling)
  • Kane County: 575 (6.7 per day, falling)
  • Garfield County: 437 (3 per day, rising)
  • Beaver County: 656 (2.3 per day, rising)

New infections for major Southern Utah cities (numbers released ahead of Southern Utah numbers):

  • St. George: 17 (rising)
  • Washington City: 8 (steady)
  • Hurricane/LaVerkin: 4 (steady)
  • Ivins City/Santa Clara: 1 (steady)
  • Cedar City: 12 (rising)

Deaths: 235 (1.1 per day, falling)

  • Washington County: 184 
  • Iron County: 32 
  • Garfield County: 9 
  • Kane County: 4
  • Beaver County: 6

Hospitalized: 16 (steady)

Active cases: 1,199 (falling)

Current Utah seven-day average: 527 (falling)

Vaccines shipped to  Southern Utah: 74,530 (+8,880)

Number of initial vaccine injections in Southern Utah: 42,262 (+5,044)

Number of fully vaccinated in Southern Utah: 19,665 (+1,332)

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Those who can currently get first dose of the vaccine: Everyone ages 65 and over; K-12 teachers and staff; those that work in nonhospital health care facilities (those in clinics, pharmacies, dentists or other medical offices); and first responders, including law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs; Those with the following health conditions – Transplant recipients, having had certain cancers, immunocompromised state including HIV, severe kidney disease, uncontrolled diabetes, obese with a body mass index greater than 40, hepatitis, chronic heart disease, but not high blood pressure, lung disease besides asthma, downs syndrome or cerebral palsy, those who have had strokes or dementia, sickle-cell anemia.
  • Those who can also get first dose of the vaccine as of Monday: Everyone ages 50 and over, those with all forms of diabetes, chronic kidney disease and obese individuals with a body mass index at 30 or more.
  • Those who can receive the second dose: Those who received their first injection 28 days or more before the appointment time.
  • Must register in advance online for an appointment time.
  • Must have a personal ID, employment ID (if necessary) and wear a short-sleeve shirt at appointment.
  • Proof of residency is required, though as of Feb. 25 a person does not have to reside in the county they are receiving the vaccine. Part-time residents can get vaccinated with proof of residency.
  • Vaccines are free of charge.
  • Those without email addresses or unable to make reservations online can get help at a specialized hotline at 435-986-2549.
  • To get alerts for when new vaccine appointments are added with the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, text SWUHEALTH to 888777.

Washington County:

Where: St. George Active Life Center, 245 N. 200 West, St George

Reservations: Click to register 

Iron County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Cedar City office, 260 DL Sargent Drive, Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register 

Kane County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Kanab office, 445 N. Main St., Kanab.

Reservations: Click to register 

Garfield County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Panguitch office, 601 Center St. Panguitch.

Reservations: Click to register

Beaver County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Beaver Office,  75 1175 North, Beaver.

Reservations: Click to register

St. George Regional Hospital:

Where: St. George Regional Hospital,  1380 E Medical Center Dr., St. George, 84790.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 745 N Dixie Dr in St. George and 915 Red Cliffs Dr. in Washington City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 1189 E. 700 South in St. George and 3520 Pioneer Parkway in Santa Clara.

Reservations: Click to register

Smith’s Food and Drug:

Where: 20 N. Bluff St. and 565 S. Mall Drive in St. George and 633 S. Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 625 W. Telegraph St. in Washington City and 1330 S. Providence Center Dr. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Copyright 2019, KSTU. A Tribune broadcasting station

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