SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah will allow the reopening of dine-in restaurants, gyms, barber shops and nail salons at the end of the week, Gov. Gary Herbert said Tuesday.
People will also be allowed to gather in groups of up to 20 as of Friday, but strict social-distancing measures will stay in place, including the wearing of masks.
Herbert said there may be variations in some places, but several areas such as Washington County have already committed to a similar timeline. Officials in densely populated Salt Lake County also hope to allow some businesses to re-open in early May.
Restaurants have been closed to dine-in customers since March 17. Schools and church services will remain closed.
Herbert said steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus have been effective and given officials time to marshal their resources.
“Some people think we’re trying to get to a zero-risk situation. That’s not true … Life has risk. We’re trying to manage the risk to tolerable levels that will let us go back and re-open the economy and yet protect people’s health,” the governor said.
Those at a higher risk of catching the virus were asked to use extra caution. The virus causes flu-like symptoms that many people recover from, but it can be fatal, especially for older people or those with other health conditions.
Utah will move into the "moderate risk" stage of the second revision of the Utah Leads Together coronavirus response plan. The color-coded dial introduced by the task force categorizes risk as high, moderate, low or "new normal."
"Economic recovery is not like flipping a switch, it's more like moving a dial," the Utah Leads Together website states. "The color-coded health guidance system developed by the task force will guide Utahns as we make adjustments to open businesses, but still keep our most at risk populations safe."
In other developments:
— The state is working with local companies to offer 2 million free face masks, part of a program that is also expected to save 200 jobs. The masks can be requested at coronavirus.utah.gov/mask.
— Four more people have died of the virus, bringing the total to 45. All were residents of Salt Lake County, and two were in nursing homes.
— One retirement home, Highland Cove Assisted Living in Salt Lake City, has seen seven deaths from the virus, executive director Jeffery Mathews said. The facility had its first positive case on April 8, and since then 20 residents and nine staffers have tested positive. Thirteen are recovering recovering at the facility. “Our community mourns this loss and want to express our deepest sympathy to the families impacted,” Matthews said.