Colorado Relaxes State Mask Mandate

Colorado's mask mandate is (slowly) on its way out. Here's what that means for restaurants.

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Hand throwing away medical face mask into a trash can.
Depending where your business is located, you may be able to trash the mask requirement in your dining room. / Copyright: funfunphoto

Get ready to annoy at least half your customer base—no matter what you do. The Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) reports Governor Polis has loosened Colorado’s mask mandate, allowing certain businesses, including restaurants, in Level Green counties to make mask wearing optional (unless local government has its own mask mandate). That means operators and staff in nearly half of Colorado counties will be responsible for enforcing their own mask policies.

The following information comes from the CRA’s April 2 newsletter. Sign up to receive the full version here. And take a gander at its Coronavirus Resource Center, COVID-19 Reopening Resources, and Restaurant Worker’s Guide to the COVID-19 Vaccine for more info. 

Governor Modifies Mask Mandate to Reflect Progress in Slowing the Pandemic

Effective April 3, the Governor extended the statewide mask mandate, modifying it with two sets of requirements that apply depending on a county’s local metrics. 

  • Regardless of a county’s placement on the State’s Dial 3.0, mask must be worn in schools (including for extracurricular activities), child care centers, indoor children’s camps, public-facing state government facilities, emergency medical and other healthcare settings (including hospitals, ambulance service centers, urgent care centers, non-ambulatory surgical structures, clinics, doctors’ offices, and non-urgent care medical structures), personal services (e.g. hair salons, nail salons, esthetician services, body art professionals, etc.) and limited health care settings as defined by Public Health Order (PHO) 20-36, congregate care facilities, prisons, and jails.
  • In counties in Levels Blue, Yellow, Orange, Red, and Purple on the State’s Dial 3.0 — masks must also be worn in public indoor settings where 10 or more unvaccinated individuals or individuals of unknown vaccination status are present. This indicates that in Level Green, masks are an optional precaution in public settings, except for in the environments listed above which require masks regardless of a county’s COVID metrics. 

Guests of restaurants in Level Green would not be required to wear a mask inside of the restaurant, unless a local municipality implements further mask guidance for public indoor spaces. In Level Green, it is up to the business’ discretion whether or not to require restaurant employs to wear masks, unless required by a local public health order. Guests of restaurants in counties in Levels Blue, Yellow, Orange, Red, and Purple are still required to wear a mask inside of the restaurant when they are not seated at a table. 

Local communities may have additional mask restrictions so it is advised that you check your local ordinances. 

Click here to view the fact sheet and here to view the full Executive Order.

This order expires on May 2, 2021. The State is closely monitoring disease transmission, hospitalizations, and vaccination rates, and will consider these factors prior to the Executive Order’s expiration.

In regard to the announcement, Governor Polis issued the following remarks: “I look forward to the day when immunity reaches a level that we no longer have to wear masks. Right now across our state, 1 in 207 people are currently contagious with COVID-19, and only an estimated 27% of Coloradans are already immune through either vaccination or prior infection. In the meantime, we must continue practicing vigilance by wearing masks especially if you aren’t yet fully vaccinated, practicing social distancing when in public and in the company of people with unknown vaccine status. This modified mask order is a step towards the light at the end of the tunnel, and it acknowledges a transition away from most requirements for those counties in Level Green with very low transmission, 35 cases or less out of every 100,000, and the great achievement they have made towards ending the pandemic.”

This step indicates positive progress toward defeating this virus in Colorado and being able to operate our businesses at their full capacities. We encourage everyone to continue to take precautions to keep those around them safe, and therefore keeping our businesses open and thriving. We will continue to advocate for amendments to restrictions that allow for restaurants to safely serve their communities to their full extent.

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