Salt Lake County issued a Public Health Order entitled “Stay Safe, Stay Home” that is currently in effect and will continue to be in effect until at least April 13, 2020 and can be extended as needed. The intent of the Order is to ensure the “maximum number of people self-isolate in their homes and places of residence to the maximum extend feasible [.]”
The Order applies to all of Salt Lake County, including Salt Lake City, and is more restrictive on businesses and employers than the Salt Lake City proclamation issued on March 27th. If an employer is compliant with the Order, then they are also in compliance with the Salt Lake City proclamation in regards to business operations.
This Order impacts every business in some way, so employers should be cognizant of the limitations imposed by the order.
Violation of the Order May Result in Criminal Penalties
An initial violation of the Order is punishable as a Class B Misdemeanor, and any subsequent violations are punishable as Class A Misdemeanors. Each violations is considered a separate offense under Utah law.
A class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, while a class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of as much as $2,500.
Salt Lake County has asked local municipalities to enforce the health order initially with warnings rather than citations. However, repeat or egregious offenders will likely be cited and charged. In addition, the Order gives prosecutors the ability to exercise discretion in making any charging decisions due to a violation of the Order, meaning that they can making common-sense decisions on who to charge and hold criminally liability. However, each employer and employee should understand their potential criminal liability for a violation of the Order.
Certain Categories of Businesses Must Be Closed
Beginning March 30, 2020, the following businesses must close:
- Places of public amusement and activity. This includes, but is not limited to, amusement parks, swimming pools, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, playgrounds, bowling alleys, movie theaters, concern and music halls or venues, recreation centers, social clubs, and gyms and fitness centers.
- Salons and spas. This includes, but is not limited to, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas, waxing salons, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, and tanning facilities.
If your business fits within any of these categories, then you must close. An initial violation of the order is punishable as a Class B Misdemeanor, and any subsequent violations are punishable as Class A Misdemeanors.
Essential Business and Services
The following business are encouraged to remain open by the Order and have been defined as “Essential Businesses”:
- Stores that sell groceries and medicine;
- Food and beverage production, transport and agriculture;
- Childcare settings;
- Organizations that provide charitable and social services;
- Weddings and funeral operations, providing that any gathering shall include no more than 10 people in a room or confined space;
- Funeral establishments;
- Religious entities, providing that religious worship and/or services be conducted by electronic means, with no members physically present;
- Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation;
- Financial institutions and services;
- Hardware and supplies stores;
- Critical trades, including plumbers, electricians, and carpenters, etc.;
- Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services;
- Laundry services;
- Supplies to work from home;
- Supplies for essential businesses and operations;
- Home-based care and services;
- Professional services, such as legal or accounting services;
- Labor and employee organizations;
- Hotels and motels; and
- Higher educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing critical research.
All essential businesses and operations are required to exclude employees with fever, cough, or shortness of breath, and should practice 6 feet of social distancing, discussed in further detail below, as much as possible.
Non-Essential Business Are Not Ordered Closed, But Are Restricted
All businesses that have not been ordered closed and have not been defined as an “essential business or operation” may remain open, but are required to exclude employees with fever, cough, or shortness of breath, and are required to practice 6 feet of social distancing. If a non-essential business is unable to comply with the social distancing measures outlined below, they must close or else they risk potential criminal liability.
In addition, while these “non-essential” businesses are not explicitly ordered to close, the Order states that individuals are discouraged from leaving their residences except to engage in “essential activities”, which does not include performing work for a non-essential businesses. Therefore, all employers should mandate working from home or closing the business to the extent possible.
An initial violation of the order is punishable as a Class B Misdemeanor, and any subsequent violations are punishable as Class A Misdemeanors.
All Businesses Must Practice Social Distancing
All businesses have been ordered, to the greatest extent possible, to use technology, such as virtual meetings, teleconference, and working remotely, to avoid meeting in person. No businesses may engage in door-to-door solicitation, regardless of its purpose or status as an essential business or operation, except for food and other home delivery services.
All businesses, including businesses that have been defined as “essential services”, must comply with appropriate social distancing requirements to the greatest extent possible. The Order has defined “social distancing” as:
- Maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other individuals;
- Ensuring employees and customers exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 are excluded from the workplace;
- Washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer;
- Covering coughs and sneezes; AND
- No shaking hands.
If employees must continue to work on-site, employers should implement additional sanitation measures, including: performing frequent and enhanced environment cleaning of commonly touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, railings, and door handles; designating with signage, tape or other means six-foot spacing to ensure employees and members of the public maintain social distancing; if you must accept cash, checks, or credit cards, use cleansing measures between transactions; and having hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers.
A full copy of the Order can be found here: https://slco.org/globalassets/1-site-files/health/programs/covid/pho/pho3.pdf