The Durango Herald is providing free access to this story and other stories that provide critical information about the coronavirus
Your support will help us to continue our work.Subscribe today
The city of Durango on Thursday issued a mandatory face-covering order, starting Friday morning.
The order, the first in La Plata and Archuleta counties, requires everyone to wear a face covering when entering, waiting in line to enter and using businesses; in certain outdoor areas and city buildings; and on public transportation within Durango city limits. It will be in effect through June 19, unless the city extends it.
“If face coverings can help us maintain the ground that we’ve gained as we open up the community, it will help us keep our economy open and move into a new normal,” said Amber Blake, interim city manager.
It differs from Colorado’s safer-at-home order, which requires face masks for employees in most businesses, but not customers. It also is a step further than San Juan Basin Public Health’s advisory, which applies to Archuleta and La Plata counties. The advisory recommends but does not require masks.
Durango City Council considered location requirements, business costs, educational messaging, timing and compliance under the advisory before declaring support for the order during a City Council meeting Tuesday.
Councilors were concerned about the level of compliance and considered feedback from local businesses that wanted support from the city to say masks are not requested, but required. The majority of local businesses supported face-covering requirements, according to a recent Durango Chamber of Commerce survey.
They also wanted the order before Memorial Day and the tourism season.
While masks offer varying levels of protection, research indicates that if 90% of the public wore face coverings and practiced social distancing, viral transmission could decrease by as much as 80%.
The order applies to these locations:
Any place of business engaged in sales or transactions with the general public.Any place that offers services, facilities, privileges or advantages to the general public, including outside courtyards, patios, seating and waiting or parking areas associated with the place of business or service. It includes delivery, pickup and other services. Any city-owned or city-operated building or indoor facility.All public transportation, including city transit buses, bus shelters and the Durango-La Plata Municipal Airport terminal building.Any other public place – indoor or outdoor – where people are unable to maintain 6 or more feet of distance from people who are not residents of their own household.Face coverings, such as bandannas, medical masks, cloth masks, buffs and gaiters, should fit snugly and remain in place without the use of an individual’s hands.
Although masks are not required while dining, they are required when entering and exiting the building. The state government is expected to issue a new public health order about restaurants Monday.
Children younger than 3 do not have to wear the masks, nor do people who are unable to wear masks because of health conditions or disabilities.
Banks and other businesses can ask people to remove masks for security or identification purposes.
Masks are not required on federal, state or county land.
The order may be enforced, and the Durango Police Department may issue citations, but the city is focusing first on voluntary compliance through education and warnings.