Businesses must refuse customers without masks, Tri-County order says

Mask mandate has exceptions for medical, mental health conditions; goes in effect July 24

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The public health agency for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties will require masks in public indoor spaces, and outdoors where people can’t remain 6 feet away from others, beginning July 24, but the order includes a long list of exceptions.

It also requires businesses to refuse customers who aren’t wearing masks, and those who don’t comply could have their business licenses suspended or revoked.

The order in response to COVID-19 was approved July 8 by the Tri-County Health Department Board of Health, the agency that oversees Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

Counties and municipalities can opt out of the order by July 23, and Douglas County’s elected leaders announced plans on July 9 to do so.

Where order applies

Under the order, people must wear a face covering if they are:

• Outdoors and unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet from those who are not members of their household.

• In any indoor location where members of the public are generally allowed.

• Waiting for, riding on, driving or operating public transportation or while in a taxi, private car service or ride-sharing vehicle.

• Obtaining health care services in settings such as a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank.

It also applies when people are working — whether at a workplace or off-site — in the following contexts:

• Interacting with any member of the public.

• Working in a space visited by members of the public.

• Working in a space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution.

• Working in or walking through common areas, or in an enclosed area where other people, except for the person's household members, are present and unable to physically distance.

Businesses must refuse customers

If an individual refuses to wear a mask for reasons not allowed under the order’s exceptions, a business or other publicly accessible facility is required to refuse entry, according to the order.

Any business open to the public that allows a person to enter or remain on the business’ premises without a mask “may be subject to the suspension or revocation of its license by the appropriate licensing authority as provided by law,” the order says.

Who is excepted

The order lists the following exceptions to the mask-wearing requirement:

• Individuals who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, mental health conditions or disabilities.

• Those experiencing homelessness who cannot wear a face covering because it is not affordable or obtainable.

• Individuals for whom wearing a face covering while working would create an unsafe condition for operating equipment or executing a task as determined by local, state or federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines.

• People who would be unable to remove a face covering without assistance.

• Any child aged 2 years or younger must not wear a face covering. The order does not require that any child aged 5 years or younger wear a face covering, but parents are strongly encouraged to have their children between 2 and 5 wear a face covering in accordance with federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

• Individuals who are communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

• Those who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which the temporary removal of the face covering is necessary.

• Individuals seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverages while they are eating or drinking, provided that they can stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not members of their household.

• People who are engaged in outdoor work or swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, running or other forms of outdoor exercise when alone or with household members and when they are able to stay at least 6 feet from others.

• Those who are exercising in a gym or fitness center are not required to wear a face covering when it is not physically possible or when actively exercising.

• A face covering is not required in a commercial or retail setting when a person is alone in a fully enclosed room. That individual must put on a face covering anywhere members of the public or coworkers are regularly present.

• Persons in businesses such as banks, financial institutions or other security-sensitive businesses who are requested to remove their face covering to verify their identity to carry out a transaction.

• Individuals who are incarcerated. Prisons and jails will have specific guidance on wearing face coverings, the order says.

• Individuals in education settings, which will have specific guidance on wearing face coverings, the order says.

People are not required to have documentation to show that an exception applies. An employer may require documentation from an employee in accordance with state and federal law, the order says.

Enforcement of the order

Tri-County Health will attempt to seek voluntary compliance “through education, technical assistance and warning notices,” the order says.

But any person who violates the order may be subject to legal penalties under state law. In addition, Tri-County may seek a court order to enforce the order, according to its text.

Members of the public can report suspected violations by contacting Tri-County at 303-220-9200.

“Please do not call 911 to report violations of this public health order,” the text says.

See the order's full text here.

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