Masks are completely optional in Douglas County as of Tuesday, with its leaders once again leapfrogging Colorado’s coronavirus restrictions. The county also decided it will not require people to show proof of vaccination to get together indoors.
But the Republican-leaning county also made it clear that the state can, if it wants, enforce its own COVID-19 rules.
“The board (of county commissioners) does not wish to mislead any person or business with regard to how the state may wish to enforce or not enforce its mask order and that repercussions from the state could ensue,” according to the resolution, which passed 2-1. “The board can only assure such individuals and businesses that no retribution shall come from the county.”
Gov. Jared Polis lifted restrictions on indoor mask-wearing in Colorado on May 2, with a caveat: 80% of the people must be vaccinated and show “proof of vaccination,” though it’s unclear how that’s being enforced.
Commissioner Lora Thomas, who has been vocal in her opposition to state-level pandemic health orders, was the sole member of the board to vote against the resolution, which she said will put businesses in Douglas County in the difficult position of balancing state mask mandates with customers pointing to the county’s no-mask rule.
But Commissioner Abe Laydon said the county’s COVID-19 cases are on the decline (it’s the lowest among Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties on the Tri-County Health Department dashboard). He added vaccination rates are robust, especially among older and more vulnerable populations.
“The pandemic is over — it’s time for us to end this conversation around irrational mandates,” Laydon said.
Tuesday’s resolution was similar to one Douglas County passed last month when it expanded restaurant capacity to 100% even as other metro-area counties adhered to some level of limited seating as stipulated by the state’s COVID dial. It also comes two months after commissioners demanded that Polis lift all COVID-19 restrictions to return “constitutionally guaranteed freedoms” to its residents.
Polis on Tuesday frowned on Douglas County’s resolution even before it passed.
“I think symbolic actions that discourage mask-wearing are short-sighted and unscientific,” he said. “I encourage all Coloradans to follow CDC guidelines with regard to mask-wearing.” (Those were dramatically eased last month, especially when outdoors and vaccinated.)
Polis last week extended parts of the state’s mask mandate into early June in schools, child care centers, indoor children’s camps, public-facing state government facilities, prisons, jails and health care settings.
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