Basalt extends requirement for face coverings until June 23

The Basalt Town Council on Tuesday extended its requirement that people must wear face coverings in places of business that are open to the public.

The council voted 7-0 to extend the requirement until June 23. The board voted May 1 to require masks or other coverings. That rule was set to expire Wednesday at midnight.

Town Manager Ryan Mahoney advised the board to continue the requirement since the local economy is slowing opening up. Eagle County started Monday allowing restaurants to open at 50% indoor capacity and unlimited exterior seating with proper social distancing. Most of Basalt’s restaurants are in Eagle County. The remainder is in Pitkin County, which will allow restaurants to open to dining Wednesday.

“We have just entered a new phase in public health orders,” Mahoney said. “There will be more people around and more people from out of town. With restaurants opening, that adds a new wrinkle.”

“There will be more people around and more people from out of town.” — Ryan Mahoney, town manager

While masks alone might not prevent a person from catching the coronavirus, it’s “another tool in the toolbox,” Mahoney said.

Diners would be required to wear a mask upon entering and while moving around in the interior, such as to visit the bathroom, Mahoney said. They would not have to wear a face covering while seated at a table or while eating and drinking.

Mayor Bill Kane said it appears compliance is near 100% for masks at the town’s grocery stores. He said he feels that “builds confidence” among customers that it’s safe to shop.

“I think it’s a boon for our economy, not a hindrance,” Kane said.

The resolution passed unanimously after a brief discussion by the council. The Aspen City Council also voted to extend its face covering ordinance Tuesday night until June 17.

The board also approved a measure designed to remove red tape for restaurants that want to encroach into the public right-of-way and temporarily expand the area where they can serve alcohol. With indoor seating limited by public health orders, more restaurants are expected to seek expanded outdoor seating, Mahoney said.

A resolution passed by the council allows town staff to grant administrative approvals of the requests. Restaurants would still need state government approval on expanded liquor serving.

Mahoney said encroachments into sidewalks wouldn’t be allowed to block access for people with disabilities. If they use parking areas, there must be a barrier from the roadway. Restaurants would also have to show they have adequate insurance so that the town is indemnified by allowing use of the expanded areas.

The proposal was passed 7-0.

“That’s going to help our restaurants and make our town more exciting, too,” Kane said.

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