CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Businesses are responding to Colorado’s new mask mandate announced over the weekend. Gov. Jared Polis loosened the restrictions to allow Coloradans gathered indoors in groups of 10 or more to no longer wear masks, as long as 80 percent of the group is fully vaccinated.
“I woke up to the news like everyone else, there was a new mandate we were going to have to enforce somehow,” said Karli Millspaugh, owner of Curate Mercantile in Centennial. “In practice it’s very hard for us as a small business to be enforcing or policing the vaccination records of people walking in or out of our doors every day.”
If Millspaugh is having trouble enforcing the new mask mandate, imagine what restaurants are going through, or grocery stores.
King Soopers spokesperson Kelli McGannon responded to CBS4 stating, “Due to the nature of our business we would be unable know the vaccine rate of those entering. We will continue to require all associates and customers to wear a mask while shopping in our stores.”
There are other issues. Metro State University Dean of the Hospitality School Christian Hardigree gave examples.
“How do we retain this information? Are people really giving informed consent to disclosure of this type of information as far as privacy?” she asked. “I think the governor is doing his best, his staff is trying to do its best to get the economy back on track.”
Letting people take off the masks inside may seem like a step forward, but a difficult one, and customers are caught in the middle.
“If a store says I can come inside without a mask, that’s fine, I will not wear a mask,” said Rae Cohen, customer at Curate Mercantile.
State officials say Coloradans can show proof of vaccination with a COVID-19 vaccination card, a photo of one, or legitimate personal records. CBS4 asked the state’s Joint Information Center how the new mask regulations will be enforced and received the following reply:
“We expect businesses to comply with executive and public health orders, and they carry the weight of law. Businesses or facilities should err on the side of assuming that people entering their indoor site are unvaccinated, unless they show proof of vaccination. While the majority of Coloradans are still unvaccinated, most indoor public settings like grocery stores, retail stores, and gyms will need to require mask-wearing.”
Masks are still required indoors for preschool through 12th grade students, child care centers and indoor children’s camps, public areas of state government facilities, care facilities including nursing homes, assisted living and group homes, and also prisons, jails, personal services and healthcare facilities.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website reads:
“In counties with one-week disease incidence rates over 35 per 100,000 — formerly known in Dial 3.0 as blue, yellow, orange, red, and purple counties — masks must also be worn in public indoor settings where 10 or more unvaccinated individuals or individuals of unknown vaccination status are present.
Individuals are permitted to remove their masks in public indoor spaces if 80% of the individuals in the space have shown proof of vaccination, even if there are 10 or more unvaccinated individuals in the space.
Local communities may have additional mask restrictions.”