ST. GEORGE — A gathering of about 25 people marched along Main Street in St. George on Saturday to encourage the Utah government to end the statewide mask mandate.
The statewide mask mandate, which has been in effect since November, is set to end on April 10 pending Gov. Spencer Cox’s expected signing this week of the Utah Legislature’s bill setting the date. Protesters said the mandate should end immediately.
“If the mask mandate is going to end in 21 days, what’s the difference between 21 days and now?” a St. George resident and protester who asked to remain nameless told St. George News. “St. George is not Salt Lake. Our legislators should be able to say in our area, we’re not doing this.”
With the end of the statewide mask mandate on the horizon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines show that wearing a mask, maintaining a social distance of at least six feet and avoiding crowds are the best ways to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC recommends wearing a double-layered mask or face covering anytime you are around other people, and outlines how to select, wear and clean appropriate masks.
Protesters met at Town Square Park behind the Washington County School District office building at noon, where they threw masks inside two barrels and set them on fire. After passing around signs with messages like, “Burn the mask,” and “No masks in our schools,” the group headed off to Main Street, where they stopped for a few minutes to chant in front of Town Square, and up to the corner of Main and St. George Boulevard.
There was some verbal engagements between passersby and the protesters, though those confrontations did not escalate into violence. Police did not appear to be present at the scene. A spokesman for the City of St. George said that the city had no involvement in the incident and did not have a prepared response.
The march took place after commissioners in Kane County declared the mask mandate over there despite orders from the governor and the state health department saying the statewide mandate remains in place. The state also says that individual counties do not have the authority to lift mandates independently.
Although the state mandate is set to end in the coming weeks, many businesses in Utah have said they will continue to require face coverings.
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