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Public health campaign teams up with businesses statewide to keep Utah open

Gov. Gary Herbert stands with Stay Safe to Stay Open ambassadors during the kick off of the campaign’s statewide van tour in a Smith’s parking lot in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.
Gov. Gary Herbert stands with “Stay Safe to Stay Open” ambassadors during the kick off of the campaign’s statewide van tour in a Smith’s parking lot in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A campaign started in the state’s capital to help businesses deal with mounting restrictions surrounding COVID-19 is going statewide.

“Stay Safe to Stay Open,” a partnership between the Salt Lake Chamber and the Utah Department of Health, is taking two colorful Sprinter vans around the state to invite hundreds of businesses to take a pledge. By doing so, business owners can earn recognition for doing what it takes to stay open, while consumers who patronize those businesses can know the places they shop are safe and clean.

“It’s a way to make people feel comfortable when they come shopping,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday at a campaign kickoff event. “It says to the marketplace that this is a safe place to shop.”

Already, more than 2,100 Utah businesses have pledged to support the public health measures put in place to stop the spread of the virus.

It’s “a year none of us could have anticipated,” said Aubriana Martindale, corporate affairs manager for Smith’s Food & Drug, one of the first corporations to take the pledge.

“We know that food is essential, so we had to keep our doors open,” she said. The grocer has implemented a number of safety protocols, including a mask requirement, in order to keep people who shop at their stores safe. Martindale also said the stores have implemented stricter cleaning schedules and have hired additional employees to keep up with all the extra demands.

Similar actions, according to the chamber, are what is keeping Utah’s economy afloat during these unprecedented times.

Gov. Gary Herbert speaks as the Salt Lake Chamber and Utah Department of Health introduce the Stay Safe to Stay Open campaign at a Smith’s parking lot in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Chamber President Derek Miller listens in the background.
Gov. Gary Herbert speaks as the Salt Lake Chamber and Utah Department of Health introduce the “Stay Safe to Stay Open” campaign at a Smith’s parking lot in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Chamber President Derek Miller listens in the background.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

And while consumer confidence is still only measured nationally, the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute is developing ways to track it in Utah, to better gauge and help dictate economic recovery efforts.

“It’s one thing for a business to be safe and open its doors, but it’s another thing for consumers to feel safe enough to walk through them,” President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber Derek Miller said.

He said the campaign also aims to help the “tens of thousands” of Utahns still looking for work to know that the businesses where they apply will keep them safe and able to take care of themselves and their families.

The vans and their teams of field ambassadors, hired because of their drive for a cause, will be hitting the businesses across the state for the next three months. Various demographics and population studies will dictate where they end up.

They’ve already been working throughout Salt Lake City, enlisting 80 of the 100 businesses they visited this week in the Sugar House area, according to business ambassador Alex Goodman. He said they’ve had little to no pushback, only business owners who want to make life better for their employees and the people they serve.

“They’re not giving up anything to join us,” Goodman said, adding that his job is to help businesses follow the proper public health protocols.

It doesn’t hurt, too, that the vans very clearly project the message, and its seven areas of emphasis that they’ll be taking across the state to help businesses “Stay Safe to Stay Open.”

“Look for us out on the road,” Goodman said.

For more information, visit stayopenutah.com.