Mask mandate, COVID ‘emergency’ ends in Aspen, Pitkin County |

Mask mandate, COVID ‘emergency’ ends in Aspen, Pitkin County

Pitkin County’s five-month-old indoor mask mandate expired as the day began Tuesday, though masks are still required on public transportation for at least another month.

The Pitkin County Board of Health voted earlier this month in a special meeting to end the indoor mask rule for public spaces and in schools at midnight Tuesday after the busy Presidents Day Weekend. The mandate was originally passed Sept. 16, while masks in schools have been required since August.

Both the Aspen City Council and the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners were also scheduled later Tuesday to rescind nearly 2-year-old local emergency disaster declarations passed as the COVID-19 pandemic first descended. The Aspen City Council passed the emergency declaration March 13, 2020, while the county board adopted a similar resolution March 17, 2020.

“It’s been a crazy 712 days and nights since the initial COVID-19 emergency declaration in Aspen,” Aspen City Manager Sara Ott wrote in a memo to councilmembers. “The final Pitkin County public health order impacting the Aspen community expires on Feb. 22, 2022. With this expiration, the City Manager no longer needs to exercise emergency authorities to manage the presence of disease in the community and/or city facilities.”

“Pitkin County residents have achieved a very high rate of vaccination against COVID-19, resulting in decreased incidence rates and hospitalizations due to COVID19 …” according to a proposed draft of the county board’s resolution.

Masks still will be required on Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses and other forms of public transportation like airplanes until at least March 18 under federal regulations.

Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said Monday he expects conflicts to arise in relation to the continuing transportation rule. Officers were called Thursday to Rubey Park to help RFTA security deal with passengers who refused to wear masks and became unruly, he said. The passengers were kicked off the bus.

“I just think it’s going to be a flash point, perhaps,” Linn said.

As of Friday, the seven-day Pitkin County incidence rate was 275 per 100,000 people, with 48 new cases of COVID-19 among residents in the preceding week and one out-of-county case, according to the county’s online COVID-19 dashboards.

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