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Aurora councilmembers fight mask mandate over county lines

Posted at 7:12 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 21:50:02-05

AURORA, Colo. — At The Cookie Company in Aurora, longtime owner Frankie Hoff feels the controversy over mask mandates is half-baked.

"I don't think people pay that much attention, honestly, to what the politicians and the arguments that are going on and what the mandates are or aren't," her said. "It hasn't affected our business at all."

The latest arguments, however, may directly affect her Aurora business.

The City of Aurora covers three counties. Two of those counties, Adams and Arapahoe, will fall under a mask mandate, beginning Wednesday. Douglas County will not fall under that mandate.

While a very small percentage of the city lives in Douglas County, a group of councilmembers have requested code enforcement officers enforce state rules rather than the Tri-County Health mandate.

"What I'd like to see is have a consistent mask mandate across the city of Aurora," said Councilmember Curtis Gardner, who believes the lack of a mask mandate in Douglas County has created an uneven playing field for Aurora businesses.

"It's a very small percentage of our population that lives in Douglas County," Gardner continued. "However, we do have a significant amount of residents that border up to Douglas County, and I think by having inconsistency in the mask mandate, it creates an incentive for those residents to go to Douglas County to do their shopping to spend their money and ultimately, that tax revenue doesn't come back to the city."

At Southlands Shopping Center, Eldon Larson is concerned reinstating a mask mandate will be very bad for his business, Wine Experience Cafe.

Larson has had COVID-19 and received both vaccine doses along with a booster. He believes masks are not necessary for protection.

"I personally do not wear a mask," the business owner said."And I don't want my staff to wear a mask, and I don't want to force my customers to wear a mask. I'm just at a point now we're starting to feel comfortable about getting back into our world again, and then they start doing things like this."

On the flip side, Councilmember Juan Marcano says this seems like a situation in which politicians like local control until local control doesn't agree with them.

"So I think we should be doing what our local health agencies are recommending, which is what we've been doing during the entire course of the pandemic, and leave it at that and stop playing politics of public health," he said.

The City of Aurora has not confirmed whether it will enforce the mask mandate, releasing this statement instead:

“The city has not officially received the mask mandate order from the Tri-County Health Department. Once the city has received the order, we will review it with our legal department and determine our role with the order.”