Twice-blocked coronavirus protest concert now headed to Cedar City

(Leia Larsen | Tribune file photo) Hundreds gather at the historic Benson Grist Mill in Stansbury Park in support of Utah Business Revival on May 30, 2020.

The twice-blocked concert with country star Collin Raye that aimed to protest and openly defy state COVID-19 restrictions is now headed to Cedar City — and after delays it faced might occur after restrictions are eased enough to make it legal.

The free concert now is scheduled for June 13 at 5 p.m. at the Iron Springs Resort.

“The third time is the charm,” said concert organizer Eric Moutsos. “This shows that in America, we don't quit. Even though there's disappointments and setbacks, Collin Raye is still coming.”

Moutos said his Utah Business Revival group is now moving the event to Iron County “because their arms are wide open to us,” and officials signaled that it will not face legal challenges that blocked earlier plans for the concert in Kaysville and Grantsville.

He said Iron County Commissioner Paul Cozzens invited him, after Cozzens had attended a rally that the group held on Saturday in Tooele County after its concert there was legally blocked.

Cozzens himself was an early critic of state restrictions. In March, he led a letter by 17 county commissioners in rural areas that argued to Gov. Gary Herbert that the severity of the virus “absolutely and in no way supports the levels of concern that have been raised and the panic that has spread,” and urged “a return to normalcy.”

Cozzens did not immediately return phone calls.

But Iron County Commissioner Mike Bleak said commissioners, the county attorney and other officials met with concert organizers on Wednesday and were pleased with its plans to ensure safety — but it still must apply for and receive a permit from the county commission.

He noted the state may reduce restrictions to a “green level” soon that would legally allow large outdoor gatherings of thousands of people. Now, those with more than 50 people are banned. On Tuesday, the state economic emergency commission recommend that most of Utah transition to a “green," or normal risk, level this weekend, but that has not been finalized.

“It is my personal hope that it will be green and this becomes a moot issue” about whether the concert violates state rules, Bleak said.

But even if stricter guidelines are in place, he said the commission may still approve the concert. “I think that we would still consider it because of the square footage of available space there really is adequate space to practice social distancing. It’s kind of the perfect venue for what they want to do.”

Moutsos added organizers have arranged security, emergency medical care, portable toilets, hand-washing stations and masks for those who want them to ensure safety and meet rules for a permit.

Moutsos has organized several rallies to protest state restrictions that he says damage businesses. He hopes about 100 recently closed businesses will have booths at the concert to promote their projects.

The concert originally was scheduled for last Saturday in Kaysville. Mayor Katie Witt — who is running for Congress in the 1st District — supported and praised the protest concert planned initially for a park. Her opponents said it was political grandstanding that could harm residents.

The Kaysville City Council revolted against the mayor, and told Moutsos it would turn on sprinklers during the concert and would cut power.

Moutsos then tried to move the to an amphitheater in Grantsville, but county health officials issued an order against it and a judge also issued a restraining order to halt it.

“There is a real risk that this event could be facilitating uncontrolled spread of the COVID-19 virus to thousands of people,” ruled 3rd District Judge Dianna Gibson. “This event now under these circumstances creates an unnecessary health risk to Tooele County citizens and all citizens of Utah.”

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