Utah, BYU lessens COVID-19 restrictions

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BYU will no longer require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend large public events on campus. The school made the announcement Friday morning via social media and its COVID-19 Updates page

The university previously required proof of vaccination to access all indoor athletic, performing arts events and conferences on campus. BYU spokespeople announced in their press release that some specific events may still require proof of vaccination as part of their agreement to perform, so BYU will continue to honor those contracts. 

Masks are still required in classes and crowded indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. 

“BYU is closely monitoring COVID-19 conditions on a local and national level and will continue to adjust safety protocols as necessary,” the press release said. 

Governor Spencer Cox also announced lessened COVID-19 restrictions in his weekly pandemic briefing Friday. Cox cited the progress made in the state with vaccinations and other precautions and said it was time to move out of emergency mode. 

Governor Spencer Cox addresses the media during his weekly COVID-19 briefing on Friday, Feb. 18. Cox announced the state will transition out of emergency pandemic mode and into more of a “steady state” model by March 31. (Video by Ashley Chase)

Cox said the state will transition to a “steady state” model by March 31 as the Utah Department of Health refines plans now in progress to help the state respond to COVID-19 as more of a typical respiratory disease. This will give the public health sector more regulation over how treatment is monitored.

“It’s time for our state’s response to the pandemic to make the appropriate shift to better match where we are today,” Cox said. “It is now time to transition out of an emergency posture and into a manageable risk model.”

Cox suggested high-risk individuals continue to take the pandemic more seriously while younger, low-risk groups can lessen their precautions. 

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also released a letter on Friday moving the decision on mask regulations at Church meetings and activities to a local level. They said this action was in response to the moves governments across the world have made to change COVID-19 protocols and encouraged Area Presidencies to keep local needs and customs in mind as they adjust regulations.

Masks will still be required in temples to protect the “elderly, more vulnerable population” that makes up much of temple attendance.

These announcements came just a few days after a Utah House committee advanced a bill to keep businesses from asking for proof of vaccination. 

HB60 Vaccine Passport Amendments is sponsored by Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George. The bill calls for prohibiting discrimination based on vaccination status, which may give individuals who are unvaccinated the same protections as different races, sexes, religions and other bases of identity.

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