Durango City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on enforcement mechanisms for people who aren’t complying with mandatory mask orders.
Durango does not currently have direct enforcement authority for statewide public health orders, which has made local enforcement tough. San Juan Basin Public Health tightened public health restrictions in La Plata County on Friday in response to a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases since early November.
“It’s a clearer case if we have our own ordinance or regulation to enforce,” said Dirk Nelson, city attorney, during the Nov. 17 City Council meeting.
The proposed emergency ordinance cited this increase in cases in its justification for establishing enforcement capabilities for the city.
It’s the second enforcement ordinance Durango City Council has considered this month. The first was a mandatory mask zone, which City Council nixed during the recent meeting.
During a special session at 10:30 a.m. Monday, City Council will consider and possibly vote on the new ordinance. Public participation is scheduled to be held during the meeting.
Under the ordinance – and statewide mandatory mask orders – face coverings are required in public spaces.
That includes any indoor area within the city that is publicly or privately owned. It includes any outside or nonenclosed areas associated with the space. It also includes public transportation, city transit buses and bus shelters.
It would not be mandatory in residences or temporary private accommodations; while eating or drinking; for children younger than age 10; or for those who cannot medically tolerate masks.
Businesses would be obligated to ensure compliance, and it would be unlawful if they don’t. Some businesses have raised concerns about enforcing mandatory mask orders, saying it can create conflict with customers and put employees in tough positions.
The ordinance gives the city, through the Durango Liquor Licensing Authority, the ability to suspend or revoke liquor licenses if their owners are noncompliant with the mask requirements.
The city will try to gain voluntary compliance first, including through verbal or written warning notices. Then, it will issue citations with fines starting at $50 for a first offense to $500 for a third offense.
If someone refuses to wear a mask and/or leave the premises at the request of a business, they could be charged with criminal trespassing.
The ordinance would last until Jan. 22, 2021.
email@example.comEditor’s note: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date for the City Council special meeting.