The Glenwood Springs City Council on Thursday extended its mask ordinance to August.
The extension is a break from the council’s two previous declarations — first making the mask order indefinite June 4, then removing the word “indefinite” June 18 and declaring the face covering order would be put to a vote at each following meeting.
After starting City Council’s regular meeting Thursday with a moment of silence for a man in his 70s who became Garfield County’s third death related to COVID-19 earlier in the day, City Council opened the regular agenda with a discussion about the face covering order.
While several members of the public called into council’s past meetings, speaking against the face mask order, no such opinions were voiced Thursday.
“After having a community discussion (Tuesday) … and seeing a rise in cases throughout the county, I feel we’re being prudent,” Councilor Paula Stepp said. “I think in the long run it’s much better for our economy. Let’s do all we can to keep all our businesses open.”
Glenwood Springs residents and council members participated in a community listening session Tuesday, during which local medical professionals updated the community about the pandemic situation and provided scientific evidence about the effectiveness of wearing face coverings to slow the virus’ spread.
Briefing council, Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa said about 400 people called in for the listening session, making it one of the council’s most well attended meetings in recent history.
Councilor Rick Voorhees pointed out that Texas and Pennsylvania recently issued statewide mask orders, adding the country could soon see statewide orders as the status quo.
“I don’t think these are decisions states are making willy nilly,” Voorhees said. “We’ve spiked 82 percent in the last two weeks on the national level.”
Keeping the face-covering ordinance in place will help keep locals and visitors safe as a spike of COVID-19 infections grips the nation, Mayor Pro Tem Shelley Kaup said.
“We welcome visitors from all over the country,” Kaup said. “And there are a lot of spikes in cases in different parts of the country.”
Councilor Charlie Willman said some local businesses have been vocal opponents to the face-covering orders.
“Some of the businesses feel like we put them in the middle of this,” Willman said. “And, we need to remind them that the rules that govern businesses come from the Governor, not us.”
He added the council should be aware of the business owners placed in the position of enforcing mask orders indoors when customers refuse to comply.
Mayor Jonathan Godes agreed with Willman’s concerns, adding businesses that decide not to comply with the order make it difficult for compliant businesses by creating an inconsistent precedent for customers.
“I think it would be a lot less frustrating for the other business owners if the order was applied more evenly,” Godes said. “The city of Aspen started to criminalize businesses that didn’t enforce face coverings on their premises. We’re not there yet. But, we do ask businesses to have a baseline of doing the right thing, like not over-serving (alcohol).”
Willman made the motion to extend the mask order until the council’s first meeting in August and Kaup seconded.
The extension was approved unanimously.
Additionally, council directed city staff to draft a letter to Gov. Jared Polis requesting a statewide face-covering order for Colorado.