Provo businesses wait to increase regulations as COVID-19 cases rise

People play board games and dine at the Good Move Cafe in Provo, Utah, on a Friday night. Unlike in 2021, the restaurant is at full capacity again, and customers are not asked to wear masks anymore. (Andrea Zapata)

Many local Provo businesses are awaiting direction from the state and the CDC before applying more COVID-19 preventative measures.

Provo has seen a resurgence in COVID-19 cases with the start of the new year and the return to routines after the Christmas break.

Despite this, Provo-based companies dedicated to entertainment and leisure are allowing and experiencing higher levels of attendance compared to this time in 2021.

“Last year we started at 20% capacity and went up gradually to 75%,” party company Afuego Fridays owner Luis Castro said. “So for this New Year’s Eve party there were actually more people: They were less skeptical.”

Aside from having more people attending parties and events, the regulations Provo businesses are implementing are now more relaxed than last year.

“Right now, we have no limitations,” said Vicki Stone, Covey Center for the Arts house events coordinator. “We are still encouraging masks, but it all basically went back to how it was before the pandemic, minus that we’re having rigorous cleaning before and after each show.”

Sundance Film Festival is going fully online this year due to the omicron surge and companies in Provo predict they will have to re-implement prevention measures soon.

“For us, public safety is very important,” Castro said. “We might need to start doing temperature checks again, actively encourage people to wear masks and decrease our capacity.”

As of Jan. 11, the Utah Health Department reported 10,371 new cases, breaking the state record for infections for the third time in a row.

Good Move Cafe manager Benjamin Everett said although the restaurant is operating at full capacity now, they are waiting on what the CDC and the Utah government will have to say on the matter.

“If it gets much worse or if the government or the CDC release any new suggestions or mandates, we would add the mask policy and increase social distancing,” Everett said.

Up to Jan. 8, Salt Lake County and Summit County are the only two counties in Utah that have issued indoor mask mandates regardless of vaccination status. Utah County has not yet made any official orders.

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