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Letter: Check your punctuation, guv. What does the new mask mandate say?

Gov. Gary Herbert wears a mask prior to speaking at his monthly new conference with PBS Utah at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

I am writing concerning the ambiguity of the recent mask mandate. The original text I read was: “All Utahns must wear masks in public and when within 6 feet of anyone they don’t live with.” A subsequent version of the mandate — “all Utahns must wear masks in public, and when within 6 feet of anyone they don’t live with” — added a comma to the original text. I’m not sure what the inclusion of the comma implies.

But in any case, if the intent of the mandate is to convey the information that “all Utahns must wear masks in public at all times, and in addition all Utahns must wear masks any time they are within 6 feet of anyone they don’t live with, even in a non-public environment,” then a clarification should be broadcast immediately.

Several neighbors I talked to this morning were not wearing masks in public because they interpreted the mandate to mean “in public and only if they were within 6 feet.”

If the governor is expecting people to wear a mask any time they are in public regardless of proximity to other people (which his office told me was the intent), he needs to update the mandate and do something to somehow make everyone aware of the update to the mandate — since most people have already read the ambiguous version and are not wearing masks in public if they are not within 6 feet of anyone they don’t live with.

Robert Jacobs

Cottonwood Heights