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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Kane County Commission Says Masks Not Required, But State Mandate Still In Effect

A photo of a blue face mask in front of a black background.
Commissioners in Kane County have released a statement saying masks aren’t required in the county. Some business owners aren’t on board.

The Kane County Commission has issued a statement saying masks aren’t required in the county, despite the statewide mandate still being in effect.

The statement from the commission comes after they asked the state to change their transmission index from high to low earlier this month. They wanted to exclude jail COVID-19 cases from the county’s data.

The Utah Department Of Health said in a letter to the commission on March 10 that state inmates would not be included in Kane’s designation, but the county is still in high transmission. But the commission has also signed an executive order designating the county as low transmission.

The statement from county leaders, which was released on Facebook Friday evening, said people can choose to wear a mask or not.

“We’ve recognized that a state-wide, one-size-fits-all approach isn’t suitable and has even been detrimental,” the post reads. “We also recognize the need to protect our freedoms.”

Kane County Attorney Rob Van Dyke said the county being designated in high transmission was the impetus for the statement. He said this is about pointing out how meaningless statewide orders are.

“This heavy handedness from the state hasn't been necessary and won't likely be necessary in the foreseeable future,” Van Dyke said.

Some in Kane County are against the commissioner’s decision. The Kanab Area Chamber of Commerce released a statement Monday in support of current health guidelines.

“The county does not have the authorization to unilaterally declare itself independent of the state mandate,” it reads. “We urge business owners and their staff to continue to wear masks, when appropriate, to protect themselves and our Kane County residents and visitors.”

Victor Cooper owns Rocking V Cafe in Kanab. He said he thinks the move by the commission is “irresponsible,” but doesn’t think it will change anything. He said he’ll continue requiring masks.

“Nobody's wearing it anyway,” Cooper said. “It's ridiculous. But OK, whatever. I guess they'll do what they want to do. And as a business owner, I'm going to do what I need to do.”

In response to the county’s statement, UDOH said, “A statewide mask requirement remains in effect for all counties, regardless of transmission levels.” The department is also encouraging Kane County residents to continue wearing masks.

The statewide mandate ends April 10.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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