The Bayfield Board of Trustees supported waiting on a decision about whether a mandatory face-covering order is the right move for the town.
Face coverings are one way to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. Many communities, including Bayfield, debate requiring masks, with some questioning their effectiveness or describing them as an infringement of personal rights.
While the board did not take formal action during a meeting Tuesday, most trustees agreed Bayfield does not need a mandatory mask order. They are keeping the option open for future discussion.
“I have not heard one business ask us to do a mandate on this,” said Ashleigh Tarkington, Bayfield mayor. “Everyone feels very comfortable with ... San Juan Basin Public Health.”
During the discussion, trustees considered feedback from businesses, Durango’s recent mask order and future outbreak potential. It launched a feedback survey on the town of Bayfield Facebook page Thursday.
“I just don’t see it as something Bayfield needs to take on and regulate,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kristin Dallison.
Trustees spoke through masks, which muffled some of their statements, while sitting 6 feet apart during the meeting at Town Hall. The town limits the number of people in the room to comply with public health requirements and broadcasts the meetings online.
The city of Durango issued a mandatory face-covering order in most areas of the city before an expected surge of tourists over Memorial Day weekend.
“Bayfield is very different than Durango. We don’t have a lot of tourism,” Tarkington said. She talked to businesses, whose clients are mostly local. “I felt very comfortable with not taking a stand on the mandate.”
While business employees have to wear face coverings, customers do not, under Colorado’s safer-at-home guidelines. SJBPH has issued an advisory, recommending but not requiring masks. According to three Bayfield businesses, those guidelines are either manageable or a burden to business. None of the businesses, Bayfield Liquor, Tuning Fork Cafe and Highland Vision Center, supported a mandatory mask order.
Trustee Lori Zazzaro, who helps lead SJBPH’s response to the virus in her day job, said Colorado and SJBPH don’t require face coverings, and if the community is fine with it, then a trustee’s job is to represent the community.
“I’ll happily support wearing masks. I’m wearing mine, but if you don’t wear yours, I’m not protected from you, you’re protected from me,” Zazzaro said.
She and other trustees supported encouraging community members to wear face coverings.
“I understand everybody wanting to open things up and moving along. If we want to beat this thing, it requires all of us working together,” said Trustee David Black. “I think we might want to revisit this in a couple months.”