Governor Herbert’s State of Emergency of March 6, Expired on April 5th. Why ask permission to open?
By now, nearly everyone knows the stay home orders around Utah and the nation have cost tens of millions of jobs. What few know is that the Utah State of Emergency Executive Order from Governor Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Cox expired 30 days after March 6th 2020.
Most recently on May 6th, 2020 the Governor ordered the COVID-19 Public Health Risk Status shall ‘remain at Orange (Moderate Risk).’
Also that ‘individuals and business in Utah shall comply with the Orange (Medium Risk) provisions of the Phased Guidelines Version 4.1.’
Other sentences provided for political subdivision to ask for an exception, and wear masks.
The title of the May 6th Executive Order was entitled ‘Updating the State COVID-19 Public Health Risk Status, Phased Guidelines to Version 4.1’
The May 6th Order referenced the Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency by President Trump dated March 13, 2020. The Order referenced the Utah Economic Response Task Force version 2 of Utah Leads Together of April 17, 2020. This April 17, 2020 version has color coded levels of restrictions, Red, Orange, Yellow and Green. All for protecting public health.
On April 29, 2020 the Governor changed colors from Red to Orange.
The day before the May 6th, Executive Order, May 5, 2020, the Utah department of Health released more Guidelines
The authority for these orders are in the May 6th order, to wit, Utah Code Section 53-21-209(1) is entitled the Disaster Response and Recovery Act and has ‘full force and effect of law.’ Also Utah Code 53-2a-204(1)(a) authorizes the governor to utilize broad resources for the state of emergency. Also Utah Code 53-2a-204(1)(b) authorized the governor to direct local officers as ‘reasonable and necessary’ to secure compliance.
But what is ‘reasonable and necessary?’ While Costco had to close its optician section, Harmon’s Neighborhood Grocery can sell beer.
The dentists laid off hygienists who carry out teeth cleaning. The emergency rooms are closed. Ivins’ Tuacahn theater cancelled its programs and reservations through May. The Southwest Symphony and Timpanogos Symphony cancelled their music seasons. Outside our great state of Utah, the Yellowstone Park lodge cancelled reservations.
The Public Health Directors who are reporting COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths on a daily basis to the state Health Department and which are then reported nationally, do not report the other causes of death. Even though statistically, there are four times the number just of suicides in Utah as COVID-19 deaths, and one hundred times the number of all causes of death in Utah as reported COVID-19 deaths.
One aspect of the guidelines is preventing 10 or 20 or 50 peoples from gathering. This was called ‘stay safe, stay home.’
Does the Governor have such power and authority?
Yes, for 30 days. The way the Utah law works is the Governor may declare a state of emergency, see Utah Code Title 53-2a-206.
Commander in chief of military forces.
- A state of emergency may be declared by executive order of the governor if the governor finds a disaster has occurred or the occurrence or threat of a disaster is imminent in any area of the state etc.
- A state of emergency shall continue until the governor finds the threat or danger has passed etc.
- A state of emergency may not continue for longer than 30 days unless extended by joint resolution of the Legislature, which may also terminate a state of emergency by joint resolution at any time.
The Governor declared a state of emergency on March 6, 2020, according to proper law. This expired on April 5, 2020 because the Legislature did not extend the time.
Or, at least, the joint Resolution for the COVID-19 disaster, since April, did not turn up in a search of the Utah government data base of actions. The legislature did pass House joint Resolution 302 to extend the state of emergency due to the March 20, 2020 earthquake near Magna Utah.
So what is the fuss about? The Commissioners of Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, and Washington counties, styled the Southwest local public Health district, asked for the restrictions to change from Orange to Yellow. This was denied the week of May 5th. Probably just as well, as no one had checked the law to learn that the Orders were without authority, and the State of Emergency expired in April.
The result as of April 6, 2020 Utah is no longer under a state of Emergency for COVID-19 and Utah is now under Normal conditions.
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