With Utah’s statewide mask mandate ending on April 10, Gov. Spencer Cox urged the state’s residents to “act with respect to your fellow humans” and told those who don’t want to wear masks not to “be a jerk” if a business maintains its restrictions.
“Don’t yell at the clerk; don’t yell at the store manager,” he said during a news conference on Thursday. “Don’t make a fool of yourself because you don’t want to wear masks.”
“This is not a free for all,” Cox added later. “We live in a society. We should care about each other. And if you don’t care about other people, then don’t go to places where other people are.”
He urged Utahns to consider their risk level and said those who haven’t been fully vaccinated when the mask mandate ends should consider continuing to wear a mask or not go out. And he urged people who may feel a business isn’t doing enough to combat the spread of the coronavirus to exercise patience as well.
“If you go into a restaurant and a table is closer to yours than maybe what you think [it should be], don’t yell at the waitress and tell her that you want people 6 feet away from you,” he said. “If you don’t feel comfortable going out and eating at a restaurant because you’re at risk, then get takeout.”
The new governor said he recognized that masks have been a divisive issue. But he said those who don’t want to wear a mask shouldn’t mock people who continue to wear them, and those who do shouldn’t “pile on” to people that won’t wear one.
Cox said Thursday that he doesn’t “love the bill” the state Legislature recently passed that will end the statewide mask mandate early next month. He said he urged legislative leaders to give the state more time to get people vaccinated before lifting it.
“We told them look, every day we get 25,000, at least, new people get vaccinated and get closer to that immunity and that herd immunity that we’re working toward, so we’ll take as many days as you can give us,” he recounted. “We ended up with April 10.”
Cox has indicated that he will sign the bill and has said he anticipates that COVID-19 vaccines will be available to every adult in Utah by April 1.
The governor stressed at his weekly COVID news briefing Thursday that the mask mandate won’t go away entirely next month, and that people will still be required to wear masks at schools and in large gatherings with 50 or more people. Businesses can also continue to require masks.
But some local business owners have already raised concerns that the end of the mask mandate will lead to conflicts with their customers beginning next month.
Matt Caputo, the CEO of Caputo’s Deli, said in a recent video posted to social media that the mask mandate de-escalated tensions with some customers in his business. And he urged the governor to veto the bill ending it, although lawmakers could then vote to override that veto.
Some Utahns and businesses have wanted to see essential workers, or people who cannot do their job from home, get vaccinated before the mask mandate ends. But Cox said Thursday that those workers will receive no special vaccine eligibility and that shots will open up for them at the same time as the public at large.
“We’re so close to the end,” Cox stressed. “We’re getting vaccines out as much as possible. Please be kind to each other. Please be patient to each other. And let’s show people what an incredible place Utah is to live.”