Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Utah, US, to lift restrictions on additional businesses in most of the state May 16. Restrictions unchanged in Salt Lake City.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Vernal, Utah
  • Moab, Utah
  • St. George, Utah
  • Ogden, Utah
  • Provo, Utah

This alert began 15 May 2020 16:25 GMT and is scheduled to expire 26 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Utah (map)
  • Date: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Summary
Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced that most of the state would move from a moderate risk level (orange) to a low-risk level (yellow) starting May 16 on the state's four-tier recovery plan, enabling additional businesses to resume operations. However, Salt Lake City, West Valley City, and Wasatch, Summit, and Grand counties will remain at a moderate risk level (orange). These measures are part of Utah's response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

At the low-risk level, the limit on the number of allowed people in gatherings increases to 50. Close-contact sports will be allowed, with a symptom check for participants. All businesses are allowed to operate, as long as they follow certain guidelines: enhance sanitation procedures, ensure a distance of at least 1.8 meters (six feet) between customers and employees, encourage employees to work from home, limit face-to-face interactions, limit travel, screen workers for symptoms, and ensure workers use face coverings, especially at times when a proper distance between them cannot be maintained.

In Salt Lake City, West Valley City, and Wasatch, Summit, and Grand counties, the moderate-risk level restrictions will remain in place until further notice. Gatherings of more than 20 people are banned, as well as close-contact team sports. Restaurants are allowed to open for limited dining-in services and retail stores may operate, provided they limit the number of persons inside such establishments at any given time. Employees and customers must wear protective face masks. Hotels and lodging establishments, entertainment venues, daycare centers, construction companies, places of worship, and personal care businesses may also operate. All businesses must enhance sanitation procedures, maintain social distancing measures, and ensure workers have the necessary protective equipment.

Authorities also require that travelers entering the state from high-risk areas self-quarantine for 14 days, and urge all residents to wear face coverings whenever social distance cannot be maintained. In-person lessons at schools will remain canceled until the end of the academic year.

Transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities are likely to keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing all restrictions. Officials could amend the orders at short notice, depending on disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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