Shop owners, workers see widespread compliance in Breckenridge mask zone
BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge’s walkable Main Street looked a little bit different this weekend as people were required to wear face coverings or masks while in the town’s new mandatory mask zone.
After hearing reports of people not wearing masks when walking around, the Breckenridge Town Council voted Thursday, July 9, to require masks for the entire walkable Main Street. Signs went up around town on Thursday informing people they were in the mandatory mask zone.
The mask zone extends from the Blue River on the west to South Ridge Street on the east. The north boundary is at North French Street while the southern boundary extends past the southern end of Main Street.
The council took Summit County’s requirement that everyone wear a face covering in buildings open to the public and outside when a 6-foot distance isn’t possible one step further in its emergency ordinance. Under the ordinance, people are required to wear a mask whenever entering or inside a place of business, in an outdoor public place while in the mask zone and outside of the mask zone if a 6-foot distance isn’t possible.
The town placed two community service officers on Main Street while shops are open in order to inform people of the ordinance. If a person is caught without a mask they can be fined $50 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for the third and all subsequent offenses.
While the fines are in place, it’s going to take a lot for someone to receive that kind of punishment, Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula said at Thursday’s meeting. The fee structure is really in place for situations in which a person is a “nuisance about it” to the point that police have to be called, he said.
“If people don’t want to be compliant with this, we’re going to try to educate them,” he said. “Then if they’re going to be obstinate and they’re going to mistreat the (community service officers) or our front-line workers then there will be a fine structure. That’s how we’ll see this proceeding.”
On Sunday, July 12, a Summit Daily reporter observed nearly every person wearing masks while walking on Main Street. While some people had theirs masks down or below their nose, the majority were properly wearing them over both their mouth and nose. The reporter observed only two people who didn’t appear to have a mask with them on Sunday.
In its first few days of operation, shop owners and workers saw robust compliance with the ordinance. Michelle Murphy, manager of Arctic Attitude, said she’s hasn’t had as many issues with customers refusing to wear masks since the ordinance went into place.
“It’s been better than before,” she said. “I’ve really not had to tell a lot of people to put it on.”
Before the ordinance was in place, Murphy said people would come to Main Street without masks and try to buy them from Arctic Attitude. She had to turn those people away.
“That was kind of like a Catch-22,” she said. “We have people coming from all different states like Texas, Florida and Arizona, which have the very high incidents. No one wants to get sick.”
Before the ordinance, Lisa Norton, co-owner of Marigolds Farmhouse Funk & Junk, said she saw nearly everyone in the street walking around without a mask. Now that the ordinance is in place, she’s had very few issues with customers refusing to wear a mask.
“Pretty much all of our customers were compliant and pretty thankful that we have it in place,” she said.
Norton said she believes the ordinance will help keep Breckenridge businesses alive during the pandemic.
“We just need to try to contain it as much as we can, so we can stay open,” she said.
Clayton Calhoun, an information specialist at the Breckenridge Welcome Center, agreed with Murphy and Norton that the ordinance helped increase the number of people wearing masks.
“For the most part it’s going to help local businesses stay open and hopefully we won’t have a spread like all the states around us,” he said.
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