Boulder County businesses scrambled after sudden mask mandate announcement

Boulder County mask requirement
Posted at 3:28 PM, Sep 05, 2021

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. -- A familiar sign is back on storefronts in Boulder County following its health department's decision to abruptly reinstate an indoor mask mandate Friday afternoon.

Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) is requiring masks indoors again for anyone above the age of two, even if they're vaccinated, thanks to a high transmission rate of the delta variant.

"I don't really want a mask mandate, but I don't want there to be a pandemic, either," tourist Denise Perpich said Sunday.

The mandate went into effect on Friday, Sept. 3, at 5 p.m., forcing business owners to scramble, with less than a day's notice.

"We do wish that they had notified the business owners a little sooner or maybe done a little more communication earlier on, especially going into the holiday weekend," Kristen Stahl, who works at Two Sole Sisters on Pearl Street in Boulder, said.

The store's employees, all of whom are vaccinated, wore masks even before the mandate, but now, they have to ask customers to put one on.

"It does put a little bit of a burden on us, definitely, because it's hard when there's not as much clear signage or there haven't been as many public announcements," Stahl said.

Their interactions with the customers have been positive so far this Labor Day weekend, and she hopes they stay that way.

"I think if people approach this as a way to keep the community alive, that's a good way to think about it," Stahl said.

But there is an exceptionto the mandate for some businesses, like Kondition Fitness on Walnut Street. Instead of requiring customers to wear a mask to enter, it's requiring proof of vaccination.

As of Friday, BCPH began allowing the fitness studio to operate as a "temporary fully vaccinated facility." That means everyone, including clients, must be vaccinated.

"People don't want to wear a mask working out. It's extremely hard, and we have really rigorous classes. My decision had to be in that day, and I found out there was an exception you could apply for," owner Emma Straight said.

The policy is similar to one she put in place at the beginning of August, which required proof of vaccination to not wear a mask. This time, however, there is no exception.

The temporary status comes with the following conditions, according to BCPH:

  • Your facility currently requires and will continue to require proof of vaccination of all guests and employees as a condition of entry
  • You agree to inspection by Boulder County Public Health for compliance with this policy
  • You understand that this temporary status will expire on September 30, 2021
  • You agree to submit a good faith application for the Fully Vaccinated Facility program once that program opens in mid-September

For Straight, it was between this or possibly losing vaccinated clients who didn't want to wear a mask and risk closure.

"There will be some more bumps in the road, I'm sure, so I'm just bracing myself for what those could be," she said.

And after a rollercoaster of a year and a half, these businesses owners say they will do whatever it takes to remain open and successful.

"That's all we want to ... is just keep things open and going," Stahl said.

The county will drop the mask mandate once its transmission rates are considered "moderate" or "low" for three weeks in a row.