Summit County officials discuss public health order compliance and enforcement after holiday weekend |

Summit County officials discuss public health order compliance and enforcement after holiday weekend

People wait in line to shop at City Market in Breckenridge on May 7. Summit County staff talked with managers at big-box stores like City Market over the weekend to ask what methods they are using to comply with their capacity limits, which are based on square footage.
Liz Copan /

BRECKENRIDGE — Summit County commissioners and public health officials discussed compliance with public health orders, specifically the facial covering requirement and physical distancing in businesses, at the Summit County Board of Health meeting on Tuesday, July 7.

The Summit County emergency alert system was used throughout the holiday weekend to remind residents and visitors of the public health order rule that requires facial coverings to be worn in public buildings and outdoors where 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.

“To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Summit County Public Health Order requires the use of face masks over nose and mouth whenever indoors in spaces open to the public; and whenever outdoors when 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained,” the alert message read. “Please wear a mask, maintain distance, wash hands frequently and stay home if sick.”

County Manager Scott Vargo said the county sent out messaging about the mask requirement through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System as well as to those who have opted in for Summit County Alerts or downloaded the CodeRed app.

While Summit County alerts specifically go to people who have opted in to the county’s messaging, anyone who has the CodeRed app who was in the county also would have received the message. County spokesperson Julie Sutor explained that the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System works similarly to Amber Alerts, which are sent to everyone in a specified area and do not require an opt in. 

Vargo said he does not know how many people received the messaging, but he noted that the county has received positive feedback for sending the alerts.

County officials decided to send out a message via the warning system at 10:30 a.m. every Saturday for the remainder of July. Vargo expressed some concern that overusing the system could desensitize people to alerts, but Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said she did not want to take a weekend off when it comes to messaging in an effort to reach visitors who come to the county.

Business compliance

At the meeting, county officials also evaluated the physical distancing efforts put in place by large businesses.

Summit County Public Health spokesperson Nicole Valentine said there have been 240 complaint calls to the nonemergency line at the dispatch center from April 6 to June 30, a number of which were related to masks, large gatherings and rentals of units when lodging was not allowed. She said officers were dispatched and had conversations with individuals in these cases. 

Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland said no citations have been issued but that warnings have been given. Wineland said there are a few businesses on the verge of being given a citation for violations of the public health order. 

“I think the businesses that are complying would really appreciate … us taking a strong stance on that because we know those businesses that aren’t following along with the rules, all it ends up doing is hurting the businesses that do follow along as it flows down our economy, and we continue to have more cases,” Lawrence said. 

Vargo said the county has identified businesses that are choosing not to be compliant and that citations will start to be issued if that behavior continues.

Wineland said county staff worked over the weekend to follow up with big-box stores on public health order compliance. These stores included City Market, Safeway, Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Murdoch’s and REI. She said check-ins likely will be continued because these larger corporate stores have generated more complaints from the public than other businesses. 

Staff also identified the capacity limits of each store based on square footage, though some stores have been further limited in capacity by their individual companies, Wineland said. She said that while not every business is counting people at the door to ensure compliance with capacity limits, they are all tracking capacity in some way via entrance sensors, hourly checks or other methods.

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