Governor Gary Herbert speaks at a press briefing. [Video still]

Governor Gary Herbert moved Moab to “Low Risk” public health restrictions along with the majority of the state, ignoring requests from local governments and public health departments for modifications and despite a growing number of COVID-19 cases in the area.

The Grand County Council had requested to continue local restrictions on hotels and motels, limiting total occupancy and mandating a rest-period between before rooms could be rented. 

The revised order was refused by the Governor’s office, despite previous comments from Gov. Herbert that he would not dictate to local health departments and his longstanding support of political philosophies prioritizing local control of government.

A recently signed law places local public health orders under state jurisdiction, allowing local ordinances to be overturned by the Governor’s Office. 

“The Governor has touted local control; yet, he has refused to give Grand County enough time to evaluate the impact of our busy Memorial Day weekend or the opening of the parks,” said Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan in an email. 

Sloan also pointed out that Moab Regional Hospital officials and Grand County Search and Rescue staff had reported as many injuries as previous years. Health officials have requested that visitors do not engage in reckless behavior out of concern that this will further tax local healthcare resources. 

On May 16, Gov. Gary Herbert allowed Grand County to remain with higher restrictions in place while much of the state was moved to the “Low-Risk” category, but after the local public health ordinance expired he declined to approve a revised version.

This is a developing story and may be added to as more information is released. 

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