Pitkin County returns to mandatory indoor mask public health order starting Thursday
Pitkin County health officials are enacting a mandatory indoor mask public health order starting at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, it was announced Wednesday.
The order requires masks in all indoor public spaces for all individuals 2 years and older regardless of vaccination status.
“Masks are required during substantial and high transmission in all indoor public spaces, including but not limited to public transportation, private and public offices, retail stores, restaurants, bars, event centers, gyms, recreation centers, and manufacturing facilities,” according to a news release sent Wednesday by Pitkin County. “The order does not apply to private homes; however, Pitkin County Public Health recommends wearing a mask whenever around individuals from a different household, particularly when at least one individual is not vaccinated.”
Jordana Sabella, Pitkin County Public Health Director, said in the release that the mandate is to help the local resources and to try to avoid capacity and distancing restrictions.
“Only second to vaccination, adoption of an indoor mask order is an extremely effective tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and set a universal expectation for mask wearing throughout the community,” Sabella said. “By adopting an indoor mask order now, we can preserve our health care system resources, protect the health of our community, and have the best chance at preventing hugely impactful capacity and social distancing restrictions in the future.”
The county is going to set up an indoor exemption for businesses that have a mandatory vaccination policy. However, businesses cannot apply for that exemption until Oct. 11.
“As part of the mask order, businesses and facilities may receive an exception for masking if they choose to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for their employees and guests,” according to the news release. “This is a voluntary program that allows businesses to develop their own policies to encourage and require vaccinations while meeting their specific demographic, community and business needs.”
“All businesses must receive explicit approval as an Approved Fully Vaccinated Facility by Pitkin County Public Health. Applications for the Fully Vaccinated Facility Program will open on October 11.”
A news conference is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to go over more details of the public health order.
The county’s board of health met last week and gave Sabella the authority to enact the mask order.
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Pastor Jim Tarr of Cornerstone Christian Church took his case directly to the Eagle County Commissioners Tuesday on why his school should be exempt from a public health mandate requiring students wear masks indoors at schools.