Riverton mayor calls mandating masks 'heavy-handed', says city police won't enforce

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Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs says he's directing the city's police force to not enforce the county's planned mandate of mask-wearing in public. (Photo: KUTV)

He said he’s pro-mask, but anti-mandate.

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, a candidate for Salt Lake County mayor, told 2News Thursday he’s against ordering people to wear a mask amid rising coronavirus numbers; and when a county order happens, police in the city will not enforce it.

“I will direct, along with our city manager, our police department to spend their resources in other areas that are really going to protect our public health,” Staggs said.

On Thursday, he criticized the county’s coronavirus response, but not Governor Herbert’s actions, calling the governor’s directives rather than orders a “great approach.”

“I will encourage people wear masks in public where they can’t be properly social distanced. I’ll wear a mask myself when I’m in there," he said.

Staggs called a mandate “unenforceable,” and insisted education and more testing is the way out of a coronavirus spike in the valley.

“Our residents will do the right thing when asked to do something,” he said. “They do not need the heavy hand of government to come down on them.“

Utah has seen a worrisome rise in coronavirus cases since most of the state went from "orange" or moderate risk, to "yellow" or low risk.

Over the weekend, the state health department’s epidemiologist said the trend is not sustainable, and hospitals could be overwhelmed if Utah continues to add coronavirus cases at the same rate.

Governor Herbert granted Salt Lake County's request to mandate wearing masks in public. The county has not released an official health order as of this report.