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Utah governor to end one-household-gathering rule before Thanksgiving

Tim Fitzsimons

Outgoing Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday said he would reissue a statewide mask mandate that is set to expire but would not reissue a statewide ban on inter-household gatherings, just days before the Thanksgiving holiday.

As part of a state of emergency declared on Nov. 9 in response to surging Covid-19 rates in Utah, Herbert issued both a mask mandate and a ban on inter-household gatherings that lasted for two weeks.

Set to expire on Monday, Herbert said that the next iteration of the declaration would drop the one-household gathering rule.

"What you do in the confines of our own home is going to be up to you, but we also are giving strong recommendations of how you conduct that in a safe environment," Herbert said at his monthly news conference Thursday.

"I know we are looking forward to the Thanksgiving day celebration," Herbert said.

"From the Governor's perspective and from the State of Utah's perspective, we want you to have a happy holiday season," Herbert said, "but we want you to have a safe holiday season."

Herbert said Utah would issue "good guidance and good counsel of what you should be doing to minimize the risk to yourself and your family when it comes to catching, spreading the Covid-19 virus."

"In order to have the safest holiday gathering possible, you should in fact only gather with only those members of your own home, your own household," Herbert said.

The more people there are, the riskier the holiday event, Herbert said. The more guests from out of state, town, or household, Herbert said, the riskier the holiday event.

"You should in fact require that people wear masks and social distance," Herbert said. "Keep it small."

The state has encouraged Utahns to read public information about how to safely host a holiday gathering and published ads encouraging the use of masks during Thanksgiving dinner.

A spokesperson for Herbert did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment on the reported reasons for the change.

This week in Utah, roughly one in five coronavirus tests has come back positive, according to the state Covid-19 data dashboard.

Utah's move to relax restrictions on inter-household gatherings comes the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a blunt warning: do not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.