June 3, 2020

How can the government legally shut down schools and businesses based on a flu???? First off, hopefully everyone is feeling well and surviving the switch from in person classes to online classes. This is a great question looking at government rights vs. individual rights. In situations such as public safety and serious community threats, such as an epidemic there are
laws already in the books both nationally and locally that give guidance on what powers the government has. In emergencies like epidemics, our local governments usually have the most power but they do take guidance from the federal government. Locally we have laws that allow the Utah and County Health Departments to shut down business for safety reasons, they can be found here Utah Code 26-6-6. Usually this safety reason is a
health code violation such as cockroaches, or dirty preparation surfaces as well as food not being stored at proper temperatures. The same law that is used for health and safety violations can be used to shut down businesses during an epidemic or pandemic. Utah Code 26A-1-114 allows for
a local health department to “close theatres, schools, and other public places and prohibit gatherings of people when necessary to protect the public health”. Another law allows the closure of schools Utah Admin. Code r.R277-419-12. Hopefully everyone complies with the Utah Health Departments closures and recommendations but if they do not comply the law does allow the health department to issue class B citations to people and they can also revoke the license of the offending business. The concept of individual freedoms vs. government infringement is an idea that each of you has to look at and figure out which is more important to you, individual rights or the common good. It is not an easy answer, especially when you are really craving a bacon brisket burger topped with an over easy egg from your local restaurant and they closed due to the pandemic.

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