Carbondale adopts ordinance requiring face coverings
Carbondale will follow other Roaring Fork Valley municipalities in requiring people to wear face masks to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Carbondale’s Board of Trustees, at a rescheduled meeting Tuesday night, voted 6-1 in favor of an emergency temporary ordinance requiring a cloth face covering of some sort upon entering and while inside a place of business.
The ordinance applies to both private businesses and public places of business, such as the library or town or school buildings, once they are allowed to reopen by the state or Garfield County.
Carbondale’s ordinance closely mirrors one adopted by Snowmass Village, in that it only requires people to don a face mask while inside an enclosed business, and not in outdoor public places where adequate social distancing can be maintained.
Glenwood Springs became the first municipality in the state last month to require face masks in public. Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt soon joined in adopting their own ordinances.
Carbondale Trustee Heather Henry agreed with the board majority that the ordinance is in the best interests of the community in terms of protecting public health and helping people feel safe.
“This will help us to reopen the economy of the community, and enacting this temporary measure will not break any civil liberties,” she said.
As with other towns that have adopted similar measures, however, enforcement is a big question. Carbondale, like other nearby towns, will not ask its police to take a heavy handed enforcement approach, Town Manager Jay Harrington said.
A violation is technically punishable by a fine of $50 on the first offense and $100 on second offense, with a summons to municipal court for any subsequent offenses.
There are also certain exceptions to the mask requirement, including toddlers and people who have breathing problems, and inside restaurants (when they’re allowed to reopen for dine-in service) once customers are seated and consuming food or drink.
Mayor Dan Richardson opposed the measure, but not because he disagrees with the science behind wearing masks as a way to prevent disease spread or out of disrespect for business owners who back the ordinance, he said.
“It just means I believe the best approach is different than this,” Richardson said in reference to Carbondale’s special COVID-19 Emergency Task Force “Mask On” educational campaign that explains the public health guidelines recommending masks as a way to control the spread of the disease.
Several business owners and members of the public spoke both for and against the ordinance, but most were in favor.
Main Street business manager Tamara Haynes-Norton said the ordinance is about protecting employees who put their own safety on the line serving customers, some of whom don’t always take public health concerns seriously.
“We need you to put the weight of the town behind this important public safety measure,” she said. “This will allow Carbondale to be an open and vibrant business community.”
Carbondale resident Jerome Dayton offered, “Your failure to wear a mask, if infected, is putting everyone around you at risk. To me, it’s just common sense to ask people to do this.”
Eaden Shantay, who operates a yoga center and holistic health spa in Carbondale, said the town should not require businesses to ask their customers to wear a face mask if they don’t choose to.
“We’re for medical freedom,” he said. “I don’t have judgment of those who do want to wear masks, but we don’t want people to be made to wear them.”
As water experts gathered last week for an annual conference in Boulder, it was with the sobering knowledge that despite everything they have done so far, it is still not enough to keep the Colorado River system from crashing.
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