Breckenridge to require masks at all times in designated downtown area
BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula called a special town council meeting Tuesday morning, July 7, to discuss facial coverings in town, including an idea that would require masks at all times, including outside.
Mamula said he called the meeting to address his concerns about the lack of people wearing facial coverings. Mamula said he has had constant interactions with people who walk into places of business with their shirt or jacket up around their mouth or otherwise have no mask present.
Council members all agreed the lack of compliance with the mask rule was a problem.
Town Manager Rick Holman said there’s been a lot of discussion in the community about how to increase compliance of the town ordinance requiring facial coverings to be worn in public when physical distancing cannot be maintained. He said that while enforcement inside businesses has been a challenge, there are also issues with compliance on Main Street and in the core of town with large numbers of people visiting.
Holman suggested creating mandatory mask areas in certain parts of town but said he doesn’t think law enforcement should be handing out tickets to those who do not comply.
Mamula said the town needs to spend money on community service officers or ambassadors to remind people about the rule, and council was largely in support.
Mamula suggested requiring masks in all areas within a certain boundary, from the gondola through Main Street Station and including Ridge Street, Main Street and part of French Street.
“I think this is how we support our business community: We make the entire downtown area a mandatory mask zone,” Mamula said.
Council member Erin Gigliello said she was concerned that a wider-ranging mask ordinance could divert attention from the priority of keeping the local workforce safe. Council member Dick Carleton said he believed a mask zone actually would help the restaurant and retail community.
Making people wear masks in the downtown area at all times also could take some of the pressure off business owners from having to educate customers about the rule, Mamula said.
Council member Jeffrey Bergeron called the move necessary, and councilor Kelly Owens said it could help create clarity on when and where facial coverings are required.
“This is all about, (at) the end of the day, Breckenridge not having to shut itself down,” council member Gary Gallagher said, expressing his support of a mask zone, though he said it should be a larger area. “Because when that happens, we all know we’ve got employees that aren’t working, we’ve got employees back in food lines, we’ve got employees looking for rent assistance. The whole thing just turns on itself and it’s really not just about somebody’s health, which is important, but it’s also what it does to the economy.”
Holman said Breckenridge would reassign community service officers into the downtown area to work on mask compliance. He said paid ambassadors would take time to hire but that the town could look into reassigning employees or consider volunteers as an option. He also said the council should be realistic about the size of the mask zone, keeping in mind that it would need to be signed and controlled.
Holman proposed amending the emergency ordinance to require facial coverings at all times in certain areas. Council plans to reconvene at 8 a.m. Thursday to approve the amendment and have the updated order active over the coming weekend. At the meeting, council will finalize the area where masks are required at all times and how it will be enforced.
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