Aspen council lifts mask mandates for indoors
Decision comes ahead of Pitkin County health board meeting later this week
People in Aspen can start letting their masks down when they’re indoors.
In anticipation of mask mandates being relaxed countywide, the Aspen City Council at a special meeting Tuesday voted 5-0 to rescind two ordinances that address COVID-19 restrictions and facial coverings.
“I think it’s time to come out of our cocoon,” said Councilman Ward Hauenstein at the elected board’s first in-person meeting held in city chambers in 14 months.
Soon after their decision, several council members, all of whom said they had been fully vaccinated, removed their face-coverings.
The council adapted emergency Ordinance 9 in April 2020; Ordinance 12 was approved in July, “requiring all businesses within the city of Aspen to be closed at a certain, specific time each night, requiring face coverings in public places in the city of Aspen, including mandatory face coverings in certain areas of town, and imposing penalties on businesses who permit individuals to enter without face coverings.”
Council members and city leaders said they hope rescinding the two ordinances clears up any confusion about competing mask laws, as local governments can establish their own rules regarding face coverings to stave off COVID-19.
“The purpose of this is to make sure the city and county are on the same page,” City Manager Sara Ott said.
The Pitkin County Board of Health will hold a special meeting Thursday to address easing the county’s mask mandate.
“This meeting is being called in light of stakeholder feedback and requests to reconsider the Pitkin County public health order based on the updated CDC guidance and updated state public health order,” the county’s public information officer Tracy Trulove said Tuesday in a statement.
By rescinding the ordinances, the Aspen government no longer requires face coverings in public places or public transportation for people over 2 years old.
“Therefore it becomes the full responsibility of the county, should they choose to keep (face mask requirements) enacted,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards said.
The state also has rescinded most of its mask requirements after an announcement by Gov. Jared Polis at a May 14 news conference.
Basalt Town Council rescinded its face covering requirement May 25, also to eliminate confusion in its area. Eagle County rescinded its mask requirement May 19.
Aspen Mayor Torre said the city can act swiftly to enact new face covering measures if it’s in the best interest of public health.
“This council did not hesitate when we felt there was a need for greater regulations and more stringent regulations for our community and our community’s health and safety,” he said. “If there is a need for reinstituting mask mandates to any area of a public health order, I’m confident we will be doing so.”
The mayor also said people who prefer to wear masks should keep on doing so.
“We should all be supportive,” he said.
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Crews promptly contained a small blaze that broke out next to the Castle Creek bridge just west of Aspen on Sunday afternoon after a transformer caught on fire.