Concerns about crowds led the Golden City Council to take new actions to require face masks and limit access to Clear Creek during a special meeting held ahead of the busy July 4 weekend. The council …
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Concerns about crowds led the Golden City Council to take new actions to require face masks and limit access to Clear Creek during a special meeting held ahead of the busy July 4 weekend.
The council directed City Manager Jason Slowinski to implement a closure of access to the waters within Clear Creek until further notice during the June 30 meeting.
That decision came after the city began allowing use of the creek for activities like tubing and kayaking after previously closing the creek for several weeks because of concerns about protecting responders who would need to respond to incidents on the creek from COVID-19.
In the days prior to the June 30 meeting, the city had received nearly 40 emails from residents expressing concerning about issues like a lack of face covering wearing and social distancing along Clear Creek.
“As much as we all enjoy tubing, etc., Golden seemed very congested last weekend,” wrote Cheri Reeburgh. “I am concerned as the summer goes on, we will see larger crowds. Personally, I feel like Golden was in a better position to avoid a COVID outbreak before tubing opened. With so many extra people in town, our risk of exposure increases.”
According to a press release issued following the meeting, city staff will install temporary fencing to block all access points to enter Clear Creek in Golden, although the Clear Creek Trail will remain accessible. Residential streets near the creek will also be blocked, allowing for local access only.
All councilmembers expressed agreement with the need to close the creek at least through the July 4 weekend, although there was some disagreement about how long the closure should last. The council ultimately determined that the closure would remain in effect until further notice with the staff planning to revisit the issue at its July 9 meeting.
“The principles of preventing virus transmission are face coverings, masks and social distancing,” said Councilman Jim Dale. “None of these are in effect if people are lining up to go into the creek. In accordance with my reading of the literature this consistutes a public health hazard because of the large gathering there.”
Councilwoman JJ Trout said that while she understood the need for the closure, she did not like banning access to the outdoors.
“I don’t like taking away opportunities for people to have outdoor activity, athletic outlets, to have mental health outlets,” she said.
She argued that the city should also provide alternative spaces for socially-distanced recreation by closing off streets or taking other steps.
Mayor Laura Weinberg said the council would plan to look into options for providing access to the creek, including opening it on weekdays but not weekends, ahead of the July 9 meeting.
Meanwhile, after previously choosing not to implement a face mask requirement in Golden, the city council is now poised to do so.
The council directed City Attorney Dave Williamson to draft an ordinance requiring face coverings to be worn inside businesses that serve the public, including stores and restaurants. At press time, that ordinance was to be considered during an emergency meeting on July 8 and could be passed as soon as the scheduled council meeting on July 9.
The council also directed Slowinski to implement an administrative order requiring that masks be worn on all city property, including paths and parks, where six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.
“Masks provide freedom for people to be able to travel around,” said Councilor JJ Trout. “Masks give the ability for folks to continue to be able to go to businesses, to hopefully once again enjoy the creek, all while protecting each other.”
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