A new public health order for Denver goes into effect tomorrow, and it requires face coverings in certain public settings.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced last Friday that a new public order is going into effect this week. The order requires face coverings in public until further notice, and comes at a time when businesses are starting to reopen around the state.

Starting on Wednesday, May 6, everyone is required to wear a face mask or face covering in certain situations while out in public spaces—including both customers and employees of businesses and facilities.

"When we're at the grocery store, work, or any other business, my face covering protects you and your face covering protects me," Mayor Hancock said. "The virus isn't going away any time soon. By wearing a face covering, you're doing your part to reduce the spread of infections and keep everyone safer."

Denver International Airport is requiring all of its employees, passengers, and visitors to wear masks at the airport starting tomorrow, as well.

Here's what you need to know about the new face-covering order (taken directly from Denvergov.org):

As defined in the order a face covering is:

  • A covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. 
  • A face covering may be factory-made or can be handmade and improvised from ordinary household materials. 
  • The face covering should fit snugly and comfortably against the side of the face, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction, and be able to be washed and machine-dried without damage or change to shape. 
  • Face coverings need to cover the nose and mouth at all times and should remain in place until taken off safely.
  • If a worker’s face covering moves during work, it needs to be replaced with one that does not need to be frequently adjusted to reduce any touching of the face. 
  • Face covering should be replaced when it becomes dirty, wet, and/or difficult to breathe through.

The order also makes clear that a mask that uses a one-way valve (a raised plastic cylinder about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask) and is designed to facilitate easy exhaling is NOT a face covering under the new order and does not comply with the order’s requirements. Valves of that type permit droplets to be released from the mask, putting others nearby at risk.

The order requires all members of the public, ages three years of age and older, to wear a face covering in public when in the following situations:

  • When they are inside, or in line to enter, any retail or commercial business.
  • When they are inside, or in line to enter, any location or facility to seek or receive services from critical government functions.
  • When they are obtaining services at healthcare operations including but not limited to hospitals, clinics, and walk-in health facilities, dentists, pharmacies, blood banks, other healthcare facilities, behavioral health providers, and facilities providing veterinary and other healthcare services for animals unless directed otherwise by an employee at the healthcare facility.
  • When they are waiting for or riding on public transportation (including without limitation any bus, RTD bus, or RTD light rail), paratransit, or while they are riding in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle.
  • Drivers or operators of any public transportation, paratransit vehicle, taxi, private car service, ride-sharing vehicle, or any other vehicle for hire must wear a face covering while driving or operating such vehicle, regardless of whether a member of the public is in the vehicle,
  • All retail and commercial businesses, including those performing critical government functions, must require their employees to wear facial coverings when interacting with any member of the public or staff, those working where food is prepared, cashier and checkout areas, waiting areas, etc., to wear facemasks. This includes elevators, hallways, and common areas, the order also asks businesses to take reasonable measures to remind customers to wear facemasks. 
  • Those in violation of the order will face an up to $999 fine, as of May 6 when the order goes into effect it will be considered “unlawful for any person to fail to comply with this order." According to the official press release “multiple agencies will be involved in enforcement” of the new order, though this was not elaborated on. 

The order does NOT require face covering when driving in a personal vehicle with members from the same household, or while driving alone. 

The order does NOT require face coverings to be worn when working alone in an office outside of the home that the public does not visit but must wear a face covering when co-workers are present within six feet, or when being visited by a client or other members of the public. 

Additionally, the order makes exceptions for those with pre-existing health conditions that may be inhibited by wearing a face covering. Health concerns must be documented with the employer. 

Other areas of the state have started requiring face coverings in public, and some businesses have begun to require both employees and customers to wear masks in recent days. This is a step intended to protect the public health and prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially as more businesses get the green light to start reopening and more people will be out and about.

You can read the full order here.

We want to hear what you think in the comments below. Stay safe, Denver!