On Tuesday, Governor Herbert announced the State is moving from “red” to “orange” in terms of COVID-19 risk, a step closer toward allowing Utah businesses to reopen.

We know many business owners are anxious to get back to work as we begin to restore our local economy. However, we must also be conscientious of the significant public health concern that remains due to COVID-19.

By now, you may have reviewed new Guidelines for Businesses to Maximize Public Health and Economic Revitalization, an addendum to Utah Leads Together 2.0.  And you have reviewed further Salt Lake County’s Plan to Reopen certain businesses that were forced to close – with specific guidance for restaurants, gyms, events, and personal services.  Now is the time to review those documents closely.


There is still a push to work remotely, avoiding out-of-state travel, and limiting the number social interactions. Mask wearing and social distancing is still in full effect. And by now, we have knowledge of who our high-risk individuals are and how to keep them safe from COVID-19 exposure.

One big reason we can go from red to orange? Testing capacity and increased contact tracing.

The change must stay in effect for at least 28 days before moving to a different phase due to acquiring enough data to make an informed decision.

While the State of Utah has stepped in to help with lawsuits, it is on business owners to be responsible for the safety of both their employees and the public.

Owning these new responsibilities as a community — together with contact tracing — is key to recovery. We’re here to help.

Contact Tracing = Stability

The Guidelines for Businesses to Maximize Public Health and Economic Revitalization includes a call to not only trace your employees but asks that “Customers voluntarily provide contact information to assist with contact tracing efforts.” And that service providers provide a “log of appointments with customer contact” among other guidelines.

Tracking your employees is critical.  A tool is now available to make the process easier – ‘Healthy Together Utah’.  The App will not only help you get tested but it will also alert you if you were in contact with someone else who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19.

We understand the implications and adoption rate are barriers to the program -– all the more reason for our business leaders to join, learn and lead through. Read more here.

More Help with Workplace Safety Assistance

Together with local universities and business leaders, Salt Lake City is dedicated to assisting you in making your business environment safe. Keep an eye out for additional guidance on workplace safety items as we continue to move out of this crisis together. The State has local a local PPE vendors list and best practices for returning to the workplace.

What About Customers Who Refuse to Wear a Mask?

Salt Lake County echoes the State that all employees must wear a mask in certain industries, then had to walk back those requirements for customers. All local and state leaders emphasize the importance of wearing a face mask, but it is a personal choice.

As an employer, any violation of a public health order is a violation of law and could result in fines from Salt Lake County Health Department.  But as a customer it cannot be enforced easily.

So how do you handle customers who say “I don’t care” when it comes to wearing a face mask?

I’m Having a Hard Time Meeting the PPE Requirements

Personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, sanitizer and disinfectant are in demand. But the State of Utah has created this resource of local providers. Likewise, we can call up other local resources if you are still having trouble sourcing them.

FAQ’s – How Does Orange Impact Unemployment Decisions?

As Utah reopens, tough choices are ahead for employers and employees.  It is up to the employer to decide whether or not to re-open their doors. The owner drives the unemployment benefit decision.

The predicament is one in which millions of people receiving state unemployment benefits along with federal dollars from the CARES Act will soon find themselves, as Utah restarts some sectors of the economy.

Utah’s Department of Workforce Services has a helpful FAQ page here to help guide your decision. It answers questions like:

  • I have been approved to pay wages from a bridge loan. Our work is picking up, but not yet full-time. Do I bring my employees back to work or let them continue receiving unemployment benefits?
  • How do I report when an employee refuses to come back to work or refuses an offer of work?
  • My employee cannot return to work because their children are not in school due to the Governor’s decision to finish the school year electronically. Are there any options for child care?

Connect with Your Neighborhood Business Owners

Look, we understand some of these decisions are tremendously scary to deal with as business leaders. There are nuances to every law and new strategies are building or revising frequently.

orange3What is working? Connecting with your industry groups and your own neighborhood.

We had an opportunity to sit in on a Midtown District business owner zoom meeting this week – a discussion of issues that everyone is facing and how they have been solving problems. It was extremely useful.

Just as there are hot spots by zip code in Salt Lake City for COVID-19 breakouts, neighborhoods are ground zero for prevention. Connect with your business neighbors and meet together often.

With Orange status in effect many of the Utah businesses that have been closed for the past six weeks or so will be allowed to reopen, and face a new reality. We are grateful to our Salt Lake City business owners during this difficult time. We’re here to help, just reach out via email at ed@slcgov.com. More resources are available on our COVID-19 Business Resources page – and if you haven’t already (or your needs have changed) please let us know how it is going by connecting on our Salt Lake City business impact survey.