Record editorial: Lifting state mask mandate puts burden on businesses
Utah’s mask mandate will be lifted April 10, assuming Gov. Spencer Cox opts to sign the so-called COVID-19 endgame bill lawmakers passed earlier this month. The rescission would be both premature since our state will not have conquered the coronavirus by then and senseless given that the accelerating vaccination campaign has put us in a position where we may truly begin returning to normal in a matter of months.
Fortunately, there appears to be an understanding in our community that, for the time being, masks continue to be a necessary part of daily life in a pandemic — regardless of what lawmakers say. In a recent survey of local businesses conducted by the Park City Chamber/Bureau, 72% indicated they will continue to require masks even if the state mandate is scrapped.
It’s encouraging, though not surprising, to see that most business owners in the Park City area continue to view masks as a vital tool to protect their patrons and employees. But it’s a shame that lawmakers are so eager to once again leave the issue up to the whims of businesses — and the customers who patronize them — rather than following the guidance of health experts and leaving the mandate in place a little while longer.
Lifting the requirement threatens to make what will hopefully be the final months of the pandemic in Utah worse for seemingly no reason other than placating people who incorrectly view masks as an infringement on their freedoms.
It would also embolden the anti-mask crowd, creating a frustrating environment for businesses that require masks and for their employees, who’ve already had countless interactions over the last year with customers angry about needing to wear a face covering. Come April 10, workers will no longer be able to fall back on the mandate when asking people to mask up, one more challenge for people who’ve spent the last year on the front lines of the pandemic.
In Summit County, we’re calling on residents and tourists, no matter their views on masks, to be respectful toward businesses that require them should the state mandate end. It’s a simple matter of courtesy. People who don’t want to wear masks after April 10 can find other places to shop.
Soon enough, masks truly will no longer be necessary. Given their inconvenience — and the fact that they’ve come to symbolize the coronavirus pandemic, for better or worse — that will be something worth celebrating. But as most Park City businesses seem to understand, we’re not there yet. And we won’t be by early April, even if state lawmakers clearly disagree.
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