Whether it’s Aspen, Pitkin County or Colorado, masks now required

People in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt are now under three separate health orders mandating they wear face coverings in public indoor spaces.

On Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide executive order requiring masks, similar to the city of Aspen’s emergency ordinance that took effect July 3 and an order from the Pitkin County Board of Health starting May 9. Snowmass and Basalt elected officials also adapted mask ordinances for their towns the first week May. Statewide, 39 counties and municipalities had mask laws as of Thursday.

“We have learned that widespread mask use is a low cost and highly effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infections by as much as 65%,” the executive order said. “Broad adoption of mask wearing in Colorado may have significant economic benefits by allowing the state to prevent reclosures of businesses and schools and, ultimately, return to our normal lives more quickly.”

The Democrat’s order, which took effect midnight Thursday, should erase whatever confusion visitors have regarding face-covering requirements, Tracy Trulove, Pitkin County’s public information officer, said Thursday during a coronavirus community meeting.

“The statewide order sets a clear standard, especially for tourists, and that’s our visitors,” she said. “And that’s something that has been discussed quite a bit is, ‘How do we get people who are coming here to come into compliance?’ The governor’s order is putting that mandate down.”

Under Polis’ order, masks are defined as non-medical, cloth-face coverings that cover the nose and mouth. That’s the same as the local health orders, which, like Polis’, require masks be worn in such public indoor spaces as retail stores and restaurants, for example. The statewide order, however, expands to include offices, lobbies, elevators, indoor businesses, common areas and gyms (except when an indoor pool, and personal services like hair salons.)

The order also applies to people waiting for transportation services “of any taxi, bus, light rail, train, car service, ride-sharing or similar service, or MassTransportation Operations.”

As well, owners and operators of indoor public spaces must post signs at their entrances alerting people to the mask law and denying them service if they don’t adhere. Violators who don’t wear masks and enter face criminal trespass charges under the order.

Colorado’s first presumptive test result of COVID-19 came March 5.

“Since then,” Polis’ order said, “the number of confirmed cases has continued to climb, and there is community spread throughout the state. We have seen over 37,000 infections and lost over 1,700 Coloradans.”

Exempt from the order, which is for 30 days and can be extended, are those 10 years old and younger and others where circumstances allow (see fact box).

“You can see the state is getting ready to get more heavy-handed on the mask issue,” Trulove said.

Over the past 10 days, as of Thursday, two patients had been hospitalized at Aspen Valley Hospital with the covonavirus. One was airlifted to a lower altitude for higher care, AVH CEO David Ressler said.

As of Thursday, there had been 144 confirmed cases and two deaths in Pitkin County since March, according to public health data.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com