Utah meets goals, ends limits on gatherings, distancing

FILE - In this March 5, 2021 file photo a sign requiring face masks is seen at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City. Utah will become the latest state to lift its mask mandate on Saturday, April 10, 2021, under a new state law, but the capital city and many businesses will continue requiring masks amid concern about communities still vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah on Tuesday ended mandated limits on gatherings and social distancing related to the coronavirus after the state reached several metrics laid out in a so-called “COVID-19 endgame” bill passed earlier this year.

The legislation, which was passed in March, established criteria based on case rates, ICU utilization and vaccine allocations. The state previously lifted its statewide mask mandate on April 10.

Utah cleared its third and final benchmark on Tuesday after the number of vaccine doses allocated to the state reached 1.63 million, health officials said.

Masks will still be required in K-12 schools across the state, and businesses can choose to require them. Utah Transit Authority has also said it will require masks and social distancing on all buses and trains until the end of September.

In a letter to legislative leadership, health department Executive Director Rich Saunders acknowledged that the legislation has been controversial but urged state leaders to remain hopeful.

“Today should give all of us reason to celebrate," Saunders said. "No matter which side someone falls on, we can all be proud of the outcomes we have achieved so far.”

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Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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