Summit County releases new public health order, maintains mask requirement
KEYSTONE — Summit County released its amended public health order Friday in response to Gov. Jared Polis’ latest safer-at-home executive order.
Polis signed the order Monday, June 1, encouraging people to social distance in their homes and outdoors. The signed order also allowed for short-term rentals to reopen.
The county’s order follows the lead of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which finalized its amended safer-at-home order Thursday, June 4. The state’s order opens up most businesses, except for bars, casinos and theaters. It also gives new guidance on personal recreation, outdoor recreation and houses of worship.
The county’s order closely follows state recommendations with minor exceptions. Summit County’s order requires that everyone wear a mask or face covering when in a building open to the public or when they are outside and a 6-foot distance from other people isn’t possible.
Under the state order, people are “urged” to wear face coverings in public, but it is not a requirement. However, Polis has extended his mask mandate, requiring all essential workers to wear them, through mid-June.
“We think it makes a lot of sense, and it just further helps protect people,” Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said about the mask rule. “Especially in Summit County, where we’re so welcoming to tourists.”
Recent modeling data from the state health department shows that wearing masks can greatly reduce the spread of the virus and keep case numbers low.
In a media briefing Friday, June 5, World Health Organization Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom offered new guidance on face coverings and masks.
“In light of evolving evidence, WHO advises that governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments,” he said.
In the past, WHO had recommended that only people who are sick or caring for someone who is sick should wear face coverings or masks. In his speech, Tedros also recommended that cloth face coverings be three layers of different material.
In Summit County, the new order also continues to require businesses to fill out the physical distancing protocol form. Businesses must post the form near the entrance of the building to inform the public of physical distancing requirements.
Places of worship are now able to open at 50% capacity or up to 50 people indoors, according to guidance from the state. If outdoors, people from different households must be spaced 6 feet apart.
Places of worship are also required to provide a “touchless experience” whenever possible. This means propping doors open, providing touchless hand sanitizer, having greeters maintain a 6-foot distance and creating a touch free Communion.
Regulations surrounding weddings are still up in the air, however. Neither the state nor county orders have official recommendations for weddings. Lawrence said that piece is especially difficult in a place like Summit County, where many people have their weddings.
The state health department also provided new guidelines for child care facilities. Initially, child care facilities were limited to 10 children in a classroom. The new order allows for as many children as the facility is licensed to have as long as they can maintain a 6-foot distance from one another.
The new order also reminds people to follow the county’s “five commitments” to maintain a 6-foot distance from others, wash hands frequently, wear face coverings in public, stay home when sick and get tested immediately if experiencing symptoms of the virus.
Lawrence said the Summit County Board of Health and commissioners decided to stay in line with state’s order to cause less confusion.
“It’s very confusing, especially since we’re welcoming visitors in,” she said. “It’s really difficult when the rules are so different than the state.”
Lawrence urged the public to remain vigilant about staying home when they feel sick.
“If you aren’t feeling well, then please stay home,” she said. “We continue to see additional cases that stem from people that are out in the community, and they don’t know.”
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