Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued an order Friday requiring people in public to wear face coverings starting Wednesday until further notice, city officials said in a release.
The order is meant to prevent the further spread of the new coronavirus, which is sweeping Colorado and the world. Denver also remains under a stay-at-home order until May 8.
“When we’re at the grocery store, work or any other business, my face covering protects you and your face covering protects me,” Hancock said in the statement. “The virus isn’t going away any time soon. By wearing a face covering, you’re doing your part to reduce the spread of infections and keep everyone safer.”
The new order requires residents and employees to wear masks while inside — our waiting outside of — retail or commercial businesses, at bus stops, facilities offering health care services and more.
Face coverings can be made of cloth, fabric or other soft material without holes that cover the nose, mouth and lower face, the order says. They may be manufactured or homemade.
With certain exceptions, the order applies to anybody aged 3 or older.
People in Denver’s parks and on trails and sidewalks are not required to wear face coverings, though they’re encouraged to do so as appropriate, said city spokesperson Michael Strott.
Multiple city agencies will take steps to enforce the requirement, the release says. Those caught without a mask could face a $999 fine, the order says.
Hancock’s order goes further than one issued by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis requiring all essential workers — like grocery store clerks and staff at meatpacking plants — and employees at elder care facilities to wear masks.
Public officials have frequently said people should get used to wearing face masks in public and that social distancing measures will likely remain for months. In a best-case scenario, most of Denver’s restrictions could be lifted over the next 2 to 4 months, though city officials have said the area is on track for a longer haul.
Other Colorado cities and counties have already issued orders requiring face masks, Denver7 News has reported: Aspen requires face coverings in city businesses. Boulder and Wheat Ridge require employees wear masks or face coverings in businesses. And Larimer and Routt counties require all employees and customers to wear coverings or masks.
The debate over whether public officials should require the residents to wear face masks has raged for weeks now with politicians ranging from President Donald Trump to local officials waffling on the issue. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine reversed himself at least twice before settling on requiring employees and distributors in all reopening businesses to wear masks. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has mandated that all residents over age 2 wear masks when out in public.
Residents across the nation have been split, as well, with some adopting the face coverings early and others protesting stay-at-home orders at state capitols across the nation, often without protective gear. Some of those opponents have co-opted the abortion rights phrase “my body my choice.”
The full text of Denver’s order can be found online at denvergov.org.