ST. GEORGE — Health department officials in southeastern Utah issued a public health order on Tuesday that will effectively shut down overnight lodging to out-of-area visitors for the next 30 days in Moab and surrounding areas.
The measure, which covers Grand, Carbon and Emery counties, was signed by Southeast Utah Health Department Health Officer Bradon Bradford. It takes effect at 10 p.m. Tuesday and is scheduled to remain in effect for 30 days unless lifted early.
Although no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have yet been detected in any of the three counties, Bradford officially declared a local public health emergency on Monday and directed that the order be issued.
“Carbon, Emery and Grand counties are surrounded by virus activity,” the document states. “SEUHD requests that all visitors that are not here on official business return to their home, and nonessential visitors planning to come to Carbon, Emery and Grand counties reconsider their plans and remain near their home.”
According to the document, all overnight lodging establishments within the three counties, including hotels, motels, RV parks, campgrounds and overnight rental properties, are restricted from allowing new check-ins and accepting new reservations as of 10 p.m. Tuesday. Existing guests may remain for the duration of their scheduled stay, but may not extend their stay, the order states.
The lodging ban excludes primary residents and “essential” guests who can prove they reside or work within one of the three counties impacted by the order, such as seasonal construction workers.
The order also places strict limitations on restaurants and other establishments that serve food, limiting their business to curbside pickup or drive-through only. Customers may not enter the stores or dine on tables outside, the order states.
The measure also directs the closure of movie theaters and other such entertainment venues, in addition to gymnasiums, fitness centers and other indoor recreational facilities.
Churches and private clubs are exempt, as long as they do not serve food or alcoholic beverages during any event during the period the order is in effect. Weddings and funerals may still be held, but no food or beverages may be served at such events, according to the order.
People are encouraged to follow the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations of limiting public gatherings to 10 people or fewer.
Violations of the public health order are punishable as a class B misdemeanor for the first offense, and a class A misdemeanor for subsequent offenses. Each day that a problem persists is considered a separate violation, according to the order.
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