Glenwood City Council extends face covering order until June 4

Council does ease local restrictions on lodging, municipal airport and Ride Glenwood Springs

Monica Mull and Kelly Williams, with LIFT-UP, wear homemade masks as they distribute food at the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle. Many residents are sewing their own masks as a precaution against COVID-19.

Face coverings will continue in Glenwood Springs through at least June 4.

Thursday evening, the Glenwood Springs City Council voted in favor of keeping its face covering public health order intact, but lifted many of its other locally-imposed COVID-19 restrictions.

Face Coverings

Since April 7, the city has required members of the public to wear face coverings for all essential activities outside of their home in Glenwood Springs.

The order exempts children under the age of 2 as well as those for whom it would cause impairment due to an existing health condition. 

“I think one thing it certainly does is it keeps people aware,” said Councilor Tony Hershey who previously opposed the mandate. “Surprisingly, I am not going to oppose this.” 

Council is slated to reconsider face coverings at its June 4 meeting.

Airport to reopen

The city will reopen the Glenwood Springs Airport, possibly as early as Monday, after having been closed to all non-critical air traffic since March 23.

“We didn’t have the crystal ball,” Councilor Steve Davis said of when the decision was made to close the airport. “At this point I see no reason to keep it closed.”

Council unanimously supported the decision to reopen the city’s airport at Thursday’s meeting.      

Short-term lodging

Council also voted in favor of lifting the city’s restrictions on short-term lodging, effective immediately. 

Since April 6, the city has prohibited non-critical lodging operations and had planned to at least until May 7.

Thursday night, however, council lifted that order altogether and instead agreed to follow the state and county’s direction with respect to lodging.

The state’s safer at home public health order identifies hotels and places of accommodation as critical businesses.

The safer at home order does not consider short-term vacation rentals to be critical businesses.

“In reality, very few people are traveling. Most that are, it’s out of some necessity,” said Mayor Pro Tem Shelley Kaup. “I don’t want to be the city that says ‘no, you can’t stop here.’”  

Ride Glenwood Springs

A majority of council also directed staff to work toward restarting the city’s public transit service, Ride Glenwood Springs, with safety policies in place similar to what RFTA has implemented.

RFTA too has required riders to wear face coverings and has limited bus capacity to no more than nine passengers per bus.  

“We are playing Russian roulette,” said Councilor Rick Voorhees. “We don’t have the data that we need to make completely scientific choices here.”

It isn’t immediately clear when Ride Glenwood Springs will start up again.

The city needs to finalize details with RFTA in the coming days before announcing an official restart date.

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