Utah Directs and Salt Lake County Orders Residents to “Stay Safe at Home”

Legal Alert

On March 27, Governor Gary Herbert issued his “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive (the “Directive”) in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Directive expressly states that it is “not to be confused with a shelter-in-place order,” and includes other provisions making clear that workplaces in general are not closed. The Directive states that all Utahns should “work from home wherever possible.” It also asks all Utah residents to limit travel to “essential travel.” Under the Directive, essential travel includes traveling to “perform work if you cannot telework.” The Directive also contains new or heightened guidelines for the workplace. Under the Directive, employers should:

  • “[E]ncourage and enable” employees to telework or work from home
  • Ensure a safe workplace by adhering to strict cleanliness and hygiene standards, screening employees who must report for work and observing social distance guidelines in places of business
  • Not require a doctor’s note or COVID-19 test results from sick employees who stay away from work
  • Respond in flexible ways to varying levels of disease transmission, presumably allowing for employees to stay at home if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or are symptomatic and implementing strategies to minimize risks to employees and the public.
  • Use videoconferencing or virtual meeting service whenever possible
  • Implement flexible schedules to reduce the number of employees in the workplace.

On March 29, Salt Lake County issued a similar public health order (the “Salt Lake County Order”) including more restrictive limitations and enforcement provisions, including criminal penalties. The Salt Lake County Order directs “all individuals present in Salt Lake County” to stay in their place of residence except to engage in essential activities or services. It also closed places of public amusement like theaters, pools, gyms and fitness centers, museums and arcades, as well as businesses engaging in close contact activities like hair and nail salons, barber shops, and tanning facilities. As with many similar orders, the Salt Lake County Order closes dine-in eating establishments, allowing only takeout, drive-up or delivery of prepared food. The Salt Lake County Order “discourages” non-essential travel or travel for non-essential functions. The Salt Lake County Order expressly allows travel to perform work at an essential business or to maintain minimum basic operations. The Salt Lake County Order includes an addendum identifying essential businesses and the scope of work expressly permitted.

The Directive is in effect until midnight on April 13, 2020 and can be found here.

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