DENVER – The city of Denver is adjusting some indoor mask requirements to be closer in line with the state’s public health order despite a continuing rise in hospitalizations and as officials push for more people to be vaccinated in the weeks ahead.
If 80% of people inside most public indoor spaces are fully vaccinated and can prove so, they would not be required to wear masks indoors, said Denver Department of Public Health Executive Director Bob McDonald during a news conference Thursday. The changes to the mask order take effect on Friday.
And if 85% of workers at a restaurant can prove they are fully vaccinated, they should not have to wear masks while inside. McDonald said that business managers are allowed to ask to see people’s vaccination cards, but people would not be mandated to show them, though those same managers would also be responsible for proving that enough people are fully vaccinated to go mask-free.
Similar to the state’s public health order, indoor spaces with nine or fewer people inside would not require masks to be worn. Masks will still be required in schools, child care centers, personal services facilities, hospitals, nursing homes and jails under the updated order.
McDonald said that some larger spaces that see lots of people moving through will still require face coverings indoors, like grocery stores, large retail stores and government buildings.
Colorado is currently second in the nation to Michigan in terms of COVID-19 case rates, but McDonald said Denver’s positivity rate is below 5% and cases have been dropping. Hospitalizations are still increasing among younger people because of the new variants seen in the state, McDonald said.
Hancock said 63% of Denver residents age 16 and up have now received at least one vaccine dose and 45% are fully vaccinated, but there remains hesitancy around the vaccine among communities of color, younger people, and older white men. With the FDA poised to potentially give authorization to use the Pfizer vaccine on 12-15-year-olds within the next week, the city hopes to get 60% of the city population, including younger age groups, vaccinated with at least one dose by June 1 and 70% by July 1 in line with the president’s goals.