Golden City Council mandate masks be worn in public

Ordinance runs through at least Aug. 14

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/13/20

The Golden City Council has unanimously voted to pass an emergency ordinance requiring face coverings to be worn inside businesses and in public situations where social distancing cannot be …

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Golden City Council mandate masks be worn in public

Ordinance runs through at least Aug. 14

Posted

The Golden City Council has unanimously voted to pass an emergency ordinance requiring face coverings to be worn inside businesses and in public situations where social distancing cannot be maintained, officially reversing course after previous discussions in which the council decided against implementing such an ordinance.

The ordinance, which was passed on July 9 and immediately went into effect, also requires that masks be worn while using any form of public transportation within the city.

However, it does list several exemptions, including one for children under three and another for “persons whom a face covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition.” Exempted activities include consuming food and beverage while in a restaurant and medical and dental procedures that require access to a person's mouth or nose.

The ordinance also does not apply to persons on property owned and used by public schools, including the Colorado School of Mines, and those engaging in athletic activities, provided participants are following guidance for that specific activity provided by the state health department of the CDC. There is also language stating that a brief encounter, such as walking or biking passed someone, is not considered a violation of social distancing and does not require a mask.

According to the ordinance, violations of the ordinance are subject to non-criminal administrative enforcements and penalties. However, businesses can have their license suspended or revoked if the city determines they are not enforcing the requirement on their premises.

The ordinance is set to expire on Aug. 14, unless both state and city emergency declarations related to COVID-19 are allowed to expire before that in which case the ordinance will expire when both declarations have. However, it can be extended by a majority vote of the council, although its extension must then be reviewed at subsequent council meeting. Mayor Laura Weinberg said the council will review whether the ordinance should be extended at its August 12 meeting.

Most councilmembers expressed strong support for the ordinance, which they said is consistent with guidance from county, state and national health officials, and represents a commonsense step toward protecting residents at a time when COVID-19 cases have sharply increased both locally and nationwide.

“As a practical matter, I think we are trying to keep our economy open,” said councilman Rob Reed. “Both Goldman Sachs and the National Retailers Association have put out requests that masks be required and the reason is if we all comply with that and achieve that universal mask wearing it will not result in another universal shutdown of businesses.”

Councilman Paul Haseman was the lone councilmember who expressed some opposition to the requirement, saying he feels usage of masks has continued to increase and that such a potentially-divisive requirement is not necessary to achieve the 85-90% mask wearing compliance many experts say is necessary to drastically reduce the spread of the virus. However, he ultimately agreed to support the ordinance, citing the strong support of the rest of the council and the inclusion of the Aug. 14 expiration date.

But several Golden residents have also expressed stronger objections.

“There's more than one opinion in all of these things and when we just simply listen to one opinion and demand we all believe one thing I think it becomes very dangerous and this group think is not healthy for any of us. I do not believe masks are going to save me from getting sick nor you,” said Stephanie Schureman, a local author, in comments to the council.

Before passing the ordinance, Mayor Laura Weinberg said she respects that tensions are running high in Golden around face masks and other COVID-19-related issues but believed the ordinance could be implemented in a "Golden way."

“We can do this with kindness for each other and recognize we are all in this together and that is something we are all doing as a Golden community and that regardless of the strength of our opinion on the matter we can work together,” Weinberg said. “I know that we as a community can do this successfully not just on the enforcement part but also in terms of compliance.”

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