What you need to know: Colorado’s mask mandate

DENVER (KDVR) – Thursday afternoon, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced an executive order requiring masks to be worn in indoor public places. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Why did the state wait until July 16 to issue the mask order?

The governor and state public health officials know masks are one of the most effective tools we currently have to limit the spread of COVID-19, but orders are often best issued and enforced at the local level. While more than thirty-nine (39) Colorado cities and counties have mask orders, others do not. A statewide order helps eliminate confusion and makes mask requirements more consistent across the state.

The state also said that businesses have asked for a statewide rule to help eliminate confusion for people moving between communities.

What is considered an indoor public space?

For the mask order, “public indoor space” means a publicly or privately owned, managed or operated, enclosed indoor area that is accessible to the public, is a place of employment, or is an entity that provides services. Public indoor space does not mean a person’s residence, including a room in a motel or hotel or a residential room for students at an educational facility.

This includes government buildings, transportation, grocery stores, hair salons, places of worship and more. A thorough list can be found on the state’s website. https://covid19.colorado.gov/mask-guidance

Who does and does not need to wear a mask?

The order applies to people in Colorado over 10 years old when they are in a public indoor space or when they are waiting for or using public transportation or ride-shares.

People who cannot medically tolerate a face covering are not required to wear one. Many businesses have created options to assist people who cannot wear masks, but if you have questions you should contact the business directly.

What will happen if I refuse to wear a mask?

If you refuse to wear a mask as required in the executive order, you are violating a Colorado law and are subject to civil or criminal penalties. If you try to enter a store without a mask, you may be prosecuted for trespassing.

Is there a specific kind of mask I need to wear?

You should wear something that covers your nose and mouth —  a cloth face covering or a disposable mask. The best mask for you is one you can wear comfortably and consistently. Any mask or face-covering that covers the nose and mouth will work.

The state continues to encourage residents to use cloth face coverings to preserve medical mask supplies for health care and other essential workers.

Why do I need to wear a mask if I’m social distancing?

It is becoming increasingly evident that masks are an inexpensive and easy way to limit disease spread. Together, masks and distancing offer a greater measure of protection. We strongly encourage all people in Colorado to practice the Big 3: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.

Are any parts of Colorado not included in this order?

Counties that are certified for Protect Our Neighbors status may choose to be exempt from the statewide mask order.

The Colorado Department of Public Health has the answers to more of your questions on its COVID-19 website. This includes information on the proper way to wear a mask, what to do if you’re exercising and what happens if a business does not comply with the order.