Utah Capitol to reopen to the public Monday

Legislators welcome in-person participation in meetings but encourage remote attendance.

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) The Capitol remains closed to the public as members of the House and Senate gather as the Utah State Legislature opens the 2021 legislative session at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.

Members of the public will be allowed back into the Utah Capitol to participate in legislative meetings beginning Monday.

The Capitol and committee rooms have been off-limits to the public during the first week of the 2021 general session, with the complex under a state of emergency due to the threat of political unrest. Utahns were still able to watch and participate in hearings remotely.

But on Friday, legislative leaders announced that they’re ready to resume in-person public participation.

“The health and safety of all Utahns remain our number one priority as we accommodate in-person attendance at the Capitol,” Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said in a prepared statement. “Public input is essential in maintaining the legislative process and steps were quickly taken to ensure in-person public participation and proper health and safety measures.”

House Speaker Brad Wilson told reporters on Friday that he isn’t aware of any recent threats against the state Capitol.

“While we initially only allowed for virtual public participation, we now look forward to the public rejoining us in person,” Wilson, R-Kaysville, said in a statement. “We will continue to adapt to whatever is thrown our way.”

People who want to attend legislative proceedings will have to wear masks and follow social distancing protocols, according to a news release from state lawmakers. Space will be limited in committee rooms so people can spread out, and state lawmakers are encouraging Utahns to take advantage of virtual attendance options available through the Legislature’s website.

Utah state troopers will provide ongoing security in committee meetings and will conduct “a non-invasive bag check” at public entrances in the Capitol complex.

Though testing isn’t required for attendance, the announcement noted that free rapid testing is available at the Utah State Fairpark.

— Tribune reporter Bryan Schott contributed to this report.