Basalt council votes to revoke mask requirement
Move eases but doesn’t eliminate confusion over rules in midvalley
The Basalt Town Council rescinded its requirement for face coverings Tuesday night to try to eliminate some of the confusion over the hodgepodge of rules in the midvalley.
Eagle County rescinded its mask requirement May 19, following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, Pitkin County still has a requirement in place for masks in most public, indoor settings.
Basalt’s downtown businesses and those in Willits are located in Eagle County. A handful of businesses on the east side of town are in Pitkin County, including Stubbies, Subway and Timbo’s.
To make matters even more confusing, Basalt’s mask requirement was in place even after Eagle County’s requirement was rescinded. Basalt’s rule superseded Eagle County’s within town boundaries, so masks were required. That put business operators in a tough spot explaining the rules.
“It’s certainly causing some confusion in the community with people thinking they’re under (Eagle County’s) order rather than the town’s,” Basalt town manager Ryan Mahoney told the council.
Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott noted Basalt and Pitkin County’s masks requirements have remained in place after the CDC, state of Colorado and Eagle County eased their rules or guidance.
“The challenge that we’re having right now is confusion throughout town,” Knott said.
Basalt’s mask requirement was supposed to be in place until June 8, but council voted 6-0 Tuesday to end it early. Revocation was supported by Mayor Bill Kane and council members Gary Tennenbaum, David Knight, Glenn Drummond, Ryan Slack and Elyse Hottel.
Kane said the council’s position has been consistent since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020: the town would follow the advice of its county public health departments. The time has come to rescind the mask requirement, he said.
“We’ve basically been given a hand to play here,” Kane said.
Drummond concurred, though he noted that the CDC’s eased guidelines pertains mostly to people who have been vaccinated.
“It doesn’t mean if you’re not vaccinated you should be walking around without a mask,” Drummond said.
Mahoney said business owners and operators could still require masks in their establishments. In addition, individual citizens can choose to continue wearing masks in public settings if that makes them more comfortable.
Hottel said she hopes people will be respect one another’s decisions on masks.
The town’s direction clears but doesn’t eliminate all confusion. The town’s revocation of the mask requirement doesn’t supersede Pitkin County’s requirement for masks, Mahoney said. However, he said the town would leave enforcement up to Pitkin County where applicable within the town’s boundaries.
Basalt’s revocation of the mask requirement went into effect immediately in the parts of town in Eagle County.
“Let’s keep an eye out for the mask bonfires, the mask burning tonight,” Kane quipped.
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