Breckenridge to step up public health order enforcement
BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge Town Council discussed stepping up enforcement of public health orders in town at Tuesday’s town council work session.
Mayor Eric Mamula said that there have been several complaints of businesses that are out of public health compliance. He speculated that some businesses have either given up or have realized that the town isn’t enforcing the public health orders, and said the town needs to do something about these businesses and in turn support businesses that are following health guidance.
On July 9, the town passed an ordinance that authorizes the suspension or revocation of Breckenridge business and occupational tax licenses for violation of a Summit County public health order. If a hearing determines there is cause for sanctions, the BOLT license can be suspended for 30 days and the establishment will be fined $2,650. However, town manager Rick Holman explained that the BOLT suspension process is slow and if that is the town’s only recourse for suspending a business, the public health threat of COVID-19 could be gone by the time the process is completed.
Town attorney Tim Berry said that under the Colorado Liquor Code, a statute authorizes a summary suspension, or a suspension of a liquor license prior to a hearing, if an establishment carries a liquor license. Berry said the town has never enacted this statute before.
“I think there are levels to this thing where the places that we’ve heard of that are shutting down … and then reopening to service staff are the ones that are really egregiously potentially affecting the health of the community because they’re inviting service workers into a situation where there could be spread. I think there’s a little bit of a difference between that and a bar that is allowing some customers to creep into a place where they shouldn’t be,” Mamula said.
Council member Dick Carleton said the town should distinguish between minor lapses in physical distancing or capacity limits in an establishment and opening the establishment after hours without public health protocols in place. Holman said that staff can increase enforcement and can utilize discretion in this enforcement by gauging the level of noncompliance of a business.
“It can become pretty obvious when you’re at your fourth time back at the same establishment with the same problem that they’re ignoring you,” Holman said.
Holman said he needs to understand potential penalties and tools to address the issue and proposed an internal staff meeting. Then, staff can come back to council with a proposal. He added that people can report public health violations anonymously to the 9-1-1 nonemergency line.
Breckenridge Police Chief Jim Baird said the department is beginning an organized push on Wednesday, Oct. 14, when officers will reeducate people by contacting businesses to remind them of public health orders. Then, certain businesses that are open after 7 p.m. that have received complaints or have been found out of compliance in prior checks will stay on a frequent schedule and will be assigned to staff to continue to follow up with. He noted that most complaints the department receives are related to restaurants and bars.
Baird said ways that officers can currently enforce public health orders at noncompliant businesses are through summons, cease and desist letters and referrals to public health or the town for further action, such as a BOLT hearing process. In addition, every uniformed personnel at the department will spend at least one hour per shift patrolling Main Street and enforcing the mandatory mask zone.
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