Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough on Monday issued a public health order banning gatherings of more than 10 people, among other restrictions, as the number of patients with the coronavirus in the county eclipsed 70.
The measure comes eight days after a sweeping order that shuttered businesses where people gather like gyms and movie theaters and banned dine-in service at restaurants and is yet another aggressive action taken by county officials striving to slow the transmission of the coronavirus.
The ban on gatherings does not apply to critical government services or necessary operations like hospitals and grocery stores. It also does not apply to families living within one household.
Additionally, the order stops short of prohibiting people from leaving their homes except for essential activities, a step that has been taken in parts of the country hit hard by the coronavirus like California and New York.
Businesses are not required to limit staff to 10 people in one location but are advised to use social distancing and allow telecommuting when possible.
“Every health order we enact is to protect public health in Summit County,” Bullough said. “We are in the fight against COVID-19 for the long haul. Each proactive step we take today saves weeks and months of reactive measures down the road. Our efforts will be magnified by the cooperation of our communities.”
In addition to the ban on gatherings, the order also imposes restrictions on a number of private businesses not singled out in the March 15 order, including construction companies, physical therapy clinics and hair, nail and tanning salons.
Employees at construction sites are not allowed to gather in lunch areas and may not share tools, among other restrictions.
Physical therapy clinics, meanwhile, are allowed only to provide essential services on-site and are required to screen patients for symptoms consistent with the coronavirus, such as cough, shortness of breath and fever, before allowing them to enter. Salons, similarly, must also screen customers and are limited to operating at 50% capacity or less.
Restrictions on child care facilities were also included in the order. Staffers must check children for illness when they arrive each day and inquire about whether any member of each child’s family is sick.
Dental clinics are also required to follow protocols meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The order is set to expire April 22, though Bullough intends to reevaluate it 14 days from Monday’s effective date.
It was issued as the number of known COVID-19 cases in Summit County continued to grow. As of Monday afternoon, there were 73 coronavirus patients in the county. Only Salt Lake County, with a population of more than 1 million people, had more cases in the state, at 112.
Statewide, there were 257 patients and, on Sunday, officials announced the first death in Utah attributed to the coronavirus, a Davis County man older than 60.
Officials in Summit County continue to urge residents to take appropriate action to combat the spread of the virus, such as social distancing. Failing to follow those measures, they say, could result in a spike in coronavirus cases that overwhelms the health care system.
“This pandemic will not cure itself overnight, or over the course of a month,” said Doug Clyde, chair of the Summit County Council. “We ask the public to aid us in our fight against the spread of COVID-19 by complying with these health orders to their fullest extent. These efforts require diligence and patience from every group in every community in Summit County. One person who thinks the rules don’t apply to them can endanger our vulnerable population and drastically set back our efforts with their irresponsible actions.”
Violations of Monday’s order are a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Businesses or people who have questions about the order can call the Summit County Community Concerns Line at 435-333-0050.