DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Douglas County commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday afternoon that would defy the state indoor face mask mandate. They claim the resolution allows residents to choose how to protect themselves from COVID-19.
“Enough is enough. The pandemic is over,” said Abe Laydon, commissioner for District 1.
“It’s time for us to end this conversation around ongoing, irrational mandates that are very much like the emperor has no clothes.”
The resolution also states that wearing a face mask indoors in Douglas County is not mandatory regardless of vaccination status. It also states that businesses cannot be fined.
The state mandate requires face masks or coverings indoors unless 80% of people are vaccinated. Gov. Jared Polis amended and extended the face-covering executive order on May 3.
People attending the meeting mostly wore masks while sitting in chairs spaced out to maintain social distancing. A public comment offered those in the room and those watching online to share their opinions on the matter.
There wasn’t anyone in person who wanted to speak on the issue, but a few requested to comment virtually.
“For the three of you to decide that the pandemic is over and the vulnerable no longer exist and to continue this war is not leadership. It is ideology and I object,” said Len Whitten, a resident of Highlands Ranch.
Commissioners say language in the executive order has “both concerned and confused Douglas County residents and business owners.” Douglas County commissioners claim the executive order deprives “citizens of fundamental constitutional rights.”
“What I know is going to happen is there is going to be more confusion in Douglas County about when someone needs to wear a mask and when someone doesn’t need to wear a mask,” said Lora Thomas, commissioner for District III.
She was the sole member of the board to vote against the resolution.
Thomas said she is frustrated by the requirement of masks in some spaces and disappointed in how the governor has led on this issue and missed opportunities to partner with local governments. She explained this move puts businesses in a difficult spot when customers cite the commissioners’ vote and those businesses are required to enforce policy from state agencies like the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
Laydon and Commissioner George Teal of District II both voted for the resolution, which included language critical of the potential use of vaccine passports. All commissioners expressed support for keeping vaccine status private for residents.
Another resident called into the video conference call suggesting commissioners should challenge the state rather than make this policy at the county level.
“You’d put your money where your mouth is and sue the state and ask for an injunction against these constitutional rights of our citizens otherwise you’re just stirring the pot,” said Robert Marshall, a resident of Highlands Ranch.