Jacob Wilson asked a customer at Snider Bros. Meats last month to put on a face mask or leave his Holladay butcher shop.
The man became belligerent, said Wilson, the shop’s general manager. He called Wilson “chunky” and “fat,” attaching both adjectives to an unprintable noun. “And then he lifted up his shirt and started slapping his four-pack abs,” Wilson said Wednesday.
Snider Bros., owned by Wilson’s parents, started requiring customers to wear masks early in the COVID-19 pandemic — and it will keep the rule in place after Saturday, when Utah’s statewide mask mandate lifts, thanks to a law passed by the Utah Legislature and signed by Gov. Spencer Cox.
The butcher shop isn’t alone. Places and events big and small — including schools, grocery stores, the Salt Lake City airport, UTA buses and TRAX lines and Utah Jazz games — will still require people to wear face masks, even after the statewide rule ends.
Cox stressed, as he was preparing to sign the Utah Legislature’s “endgame” bill, that large gatherings and schools would still be placed under masking rules. Days before signing the bill, Cox said he’s relying on Utahns to do what they think is right without government influence.
Salt Lake Tribune readers who responded to a request to share their thoughts on mask requirements largely support them. “Follow the science!” exclaimed one reader, Karen Rossiter of Ivins.
Wilson said not all of his shop’s 20-plus employees have received their COVID-19 vaccinations yet, and he intends to keep the store’s mask rule in place until he’s sure his employees and customers — a number that ranges, he said, from 850 to 2,500 a day — will be completely safe.
“Our crew is still a month out from being totally vaccinated, at best,” said Rachael Wilson, Jacob’s sister and the store manager at Snider Bros. She feels lawmakers didn’t fully consider the strain on public-facing workers when they set the date for lifting the statewide mandate. “It’s scary to confront a 40-year-old man and ask him to pull his mask up,” she said.
Having a government mandate has made it easier for businesses, Jacob Wilson said, because “it allows us to deflect. … If somebody gets upset, I could just simply say, ‘Hey, take it up with the government.’” Without that backup, he said, “when it’s about what we’re asking as a private business, people take that as an opportunity to have a debate or encourage conflict.”
Who’s still requiring masks?
Here are some of the businesses, agencies and organizations that will continue to require masks after the state’s mandate ends Saturday:
• Cox told state government employees in a March memo that a mask order would stay in place for them, and the state buildings in which they work, through May 31. That includes liquor stores, the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control reminded patrons in a tweet.
“Of course, businesses still have the opportunity to require masks in their places of business,” Cox said on March 18. “And we all have the ability to wear masks ourselves.”
• The Salt Lake City International Airport will continue to require face masks on the premises, following federal rules, according to a tweet posted Wednesday on the airport’s account. Only ticketed passengers, employees and people doing business at the airport can enter the facilities.
• Face masks still must be worn by anyone riding UTA buses, TRAX or FrontRunner. The rule also covers UTA employees, either operating vehicles or working in UTA offices.
• Utah’s public higher education institutions — University of Utah, Utah State University, Utah Valley University, Weber State University, Southern Utah University, Dixie State University, Salt Lake Community College and Snow College — will continue to require masks inside all buildings, and outside when social distancing is difficult. The same goes for Brigham Young University, Westminster College and Ensign College.
• Masks will remain a requirement for people attending Utah Jazz home games at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Other procedures — including health screenings, socially distanced seating, digital tickets, no bags or purses (except diaper or medical bags), and cashless transactions — will also stay in place. Those procedures also go for concerts at The Viv; the venue’s first headliner of the summer is Justin Bieber on June 13.
• Real Salt Lake, following Major League Soccer policy, will keep in place its COVID-19 policies at Rio Tinto Stadium — which include masks for all fans (except when actively eating food in their seats) and social distancing. RSL’s home opener is May 1.
• The Salt Lake Bees minor-league baseball team will require fans at Smith’s Ballpark to wear masks when the season begins at home on May 6.
• Utah’s Hogle Zoo, in Salt Lake City, will still require guests to wear masks, and will keep up with its other COVID-19 protocols. Zoo spokeswoman Erica Hansen said in a statement Wednesday that the rules are to protect not only zoo employees and other guests, but also the animals — particularly big cats and primates — who are susceptible to the coronavirus. The zoo also will continue to limit the number of guests it admits each day.
• All Salt Lake County facilities — a list that includes Abravanel Hall, Capitol Theatre, the Eccles Theater, the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Discovery Gateway and Clark Planetarium — will maintain their COVID-19 protocols, including requiring masks for all staff and guests.
• Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, in Draper, will maintain current COVID-19 protocols — including having visitors wear masks — “until all of our team members have had the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” according to a statement from aquarium officials.
• The Natural History Museum of Utah will keep its COVID-19 rules in place, including masks for all staff, volunteers and guests over age 2. Among the museum’s precautions is giving every visitor a stylus, so they can manipulate the interactive displays without touching them.
• Thanksgiving Point, the complex of museums and gardens in Lehi, will continue to require guests and staff to wear masks for both indoor and outdoor attractions.
• Intermountain Healthcare says visitors will have to keep wearing masks and using hand sanitizer. As of Monday, April 5, some visitors — if they have been fully vaccinated (14 days after getting their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna versions, or the first shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) or can prove they have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days — can visit COVID-19 patients in hospitals. Up to two visitors are now allowed for mothers in labor, children and infants in intensive care, or accompanying patients at clinics and InstaCare locations. Other hospital systems across Utah are expected to keep their COVID-19 protocols in place, too.
• Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might have to keep wearing masks at services. The Utah Area Presidency is leaving it up to stake presidencies, who oversee clusters of congregations, to work with lay bishops to decide the question for their worshippers. Local leaders were told in a Thursday news release to “comply with all directives from state and local governmental agencies and continue to follow appropriate safety guidelines and protocols, including masks and distancing, as determined by stake presidencies.”
• Stores in the Smith’s Food & Drug, Target and Walmart chains, as well as Utah-based Harmons, Macey’s and other independent grocers, will continue to require their customers to wear masks. So will the CVS and Walgreens pharmacy chains. (A few readers singled out Harmons stores for their efforts. “They don’t put up with nonsense,” said Alisha Archibald from Millcreek. “Either wear a mask or don’t go there.”)
• Starbucks coffee shops will still require customers to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
• Going to a movie? Remember your mask. All major theater chains that operate in Utah — the Utah-based Megaplex Theatres, as well as national chains Cinemark, AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas (whose one Utah location, in Taylorsville, is set to reopen May 7) — require guests to wear masks except when actively eating while seated in the auditorium.
• The Home Depot hardware stores are maintaining their COVID-19 protocols, including the requirement that customers and staff wear masks.
Tribune readers also noted these businesses and organizations that will continue to require masks of customers, employees and volunteers:
• The arts nonprofit Clever Octopus will require masks at its Creative Reuse Center at 2250 S. West Temple in South Salt Lake, where it sells repurposed art supplies. Sheri Gibb, the group’s executive director, said the rule will remain “until we feel that enough of our community have been vaccinated and the number of cases have diminished to a very low level.”
• The venerable Red Iguana restaurants will continue to require masks for their diners and staff, as well as offering limited capacity and social distancing, said Bill Coker, director of business affairs and development (and husband of the company president, Lucy Cardenas).
• The Local Artisan Collective, which represents some 80 artists in northern Utah, maintains a mask requirement at its studio space and shop, at 2371 Kiesel Ave. in Ogden. Co-owner Stephanie Howerton said of the statewide mandate, “[I] wish it didn’t end.”
• The Bountiful Food Pantry, at 480 E. 150 North in Bountiful, requires masks for staff, clients and volunteers — and volunteer groups are still limited, said Alisa Mercer, the pantry’s client services manager and volunteer coordinator.
• The Utah Valley Convention Center will continue with a mask requirement and limited capacity, noted reader Emily Stone of Provo.
• Orchard Animal Outreach, a veterinary clinic on Salt Lake City’s west side, will still require customers to wear masks, and adhere to no-contact rules to drop off their pets, said clinic manager Jamie Annis.
This list will be updated. Please fill out the form below if you know of a business or organization that should be included.