Statewide mask mandate ending, but in most places masks will still be required

ST. GEORGE — On Saturday, the statewide mask mandate requiring Utah residents to wear masks or face coverings when physical distancing is not possible comes to an end.

The masks-required sign inside the west entrance of the Harmon’s grocery store in St. George, Utah, March 19, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler. St. George News

But going into most large stores and other public places won’t seem too different. Masks will still be required.

A check from St. George News found that whether it was Smith’s Food and Drug, Albertsons, Lin’s Fresh Market, Harmon’s, Walmart or Target, masks will still be required.

A bill signed by the state Legislature and signed by the governor has forced an end to the mandate that was first enacted by the previous Utah governor, Gary Herbert, in November; however, that bill still allows businesses to continue their own policies requiring masks in their stores. Most national chains like Walmart, Target and Kroger, the parent company of Smith’s, have said they are going by federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which continue to advocate for face coverings when physical distancing is not possible.

This includes those who have received both vaccine shots, as it is still not conclusive whether those vaccinated can still spread the virus or not. 

Sarah Pettit, a spokesperson with Associated Foods – the parent company of Lin’s – told St. George News there is another driving force behind why some stores in Utah that don’t have a national presence are still continuing to mandate masks: A stipulation in the new law that masks must still be work in environments where there might be 50 people or more.

The Lin’s Marketplace in St. George, Utah, on March 29, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“We have 60, 70 or more people so that’s certainly a component for us,” Pettit said, referring to a statement by Associated Foods that says: “Associated Foods feels it is imperative that masks be worn in our stores until our team and partners have had the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Team members and vendors at all Lin’s  stores will continue to wear masks and we urge our guests to wear masks while shopping with us.”

At the same time, stores and businesses also have the option to not require masks anymore, and St. George News has heard from both readers who say they will be looking for stores that don’t require masks and other readers who say that stores that don’t require masks will lose their business. 

David Heaton, spokesperson for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, said the local health department is opting to just follow guidelines from the state at this point.

“We are recommending the same as the state … masks when the group is over 50 and individual businesses, organizations, agencies are being allowed to set their own policy,” Heaton said. 

Gov. Spencer Cox, under the business and 50-plus stipulation, has already said all state offices will continue to require masks. This week, the state court system said it is doing the same. 

Individual cities and counties are facing their own decisions on whether to continue to mandate masks in their buildings.

On Friday, Springdale announced it will maintain a requirement of masks until the metric thresholds stated in the bill that ended the mask mandate are met. Those incur a seven-day state average lower than 191, statewide seven-day intensive care unit utilization at less than 15% and more than 1,633,000 initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine given in the state. 

Attendees at the “End the Mask Mandate Rally” hold up signs in front of the Washington County School District offices, St. George, Utah, Aug. 21, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Stark, St. George News

According to the Utah Department of Health, the state average of new infections per day is at 402, the ICU utilization is at 66.1% and 1,068,003 Utahns have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

During their City Council meeting last week, Ivins Mayor Chris Hart said it is likely the city will determine at next week’s meeting what to do with its City Hall mask requirement, and similar decisions are expected shortly in other Southern Utah localities. 

Another area not seeing any change by the state masks mandate ending are schools. The new law does not include ending the mask mandate at the state’s schools. 

However, St. George News has learned that teachers and administrators at the Washington County School District have been preparing for a planned protest involving parents having their children arrive at school with cards saying they refuse to wear masks and to call their parents. 

Iron County suddenly the COVID-19 hotspot

Throughout the pandemic, Washington County has been, by far, the prime source of infections.

A resident receives a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine inside the St. George Active Life Center for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department’s COVID-19 second-dose vaccination clinic on April 6, 2021. St. George, Utah | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

That is no longer the case, as this week Iron County surged ahead of Washington County as far as new daily infections of COVID-19.

Iron County has averaged between 35 and 45 new infections per day this week, while Washington County has stayed in the teens.  

With 14 new infections Friday, Cedar City saw the second-largest increase in the state for a city with less than 100,000 population. This week, Cedar City has had more new infections on a daily basis than St. George despite having less than half of its southern neighbor’s population.

And the local health district is at a loss of why that is.

“We’re unsure why Iron hasn’t dropped as fast as Washington.,” Heaton said. “It could be on its own curve.”

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Those who can currently get first dose of the vaccine: Everyone ages 16 and over. Those 16-18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Use to find clinics that have the Pfizer vaccine.
  • 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 and wear a short-sleeve shirt at appointment.
  • Proof of residency may be required, though 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: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Wedgewood Lane, 2015 N Wedgewood Lane, 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/Intermountain Healthcare:

Where: 400 East Campus St. George Regional Hospital,  544 S. 400 East, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register

FourPoints Health:

Where: Various locations.

Reservations: Click to register

Revere Health:

Where: Revere Health Campus,  2825 E. Mall Drive, St. George.

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

Lin’s Marketpace:

Where: 1930 W. Sunset Blvd.  and 2928 E. Mall Drive in St. George, 1120 State St. in Hurricane and 150 N Main St. in Cedar City.

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, 180 N. 3400 West in Hurricane and 1330 S. Providence Center Dr. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Family pharmacies:

Where: Several locations

Reservations: Use to find a location near you

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.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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