COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Colorado Governor Jared Polis lifted the statewide mask mandate Friday. While wearing masks in public is no longer mandatory, it is strongly encouraged for those who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The governor's announcement follows Thursday's news of a similar public health recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which declared that Americans do need to wear masks if they are fully vaccinated.
These changes have caught some local businesses and groups who serve the public by surprise. While some are ready to welcome the relaxing of restrictions, others need a little more time to adjust.
At Solar Roast Coffee, where the beans are roasted with Pueblo sunshine, news of the governor's announcement was a bright spot in the story of the pandemic.
"We just want everything to kind of get back to normal, whatever the CDC says, you know, we'll go with it," said manager Sheena Hendrickson.
While her staff is fully vaccinated, she said many of them plan to keep wearing their masks when serving customers. They hope that customers who have not been vaccinated will follow the state and federal recommendations and continue to mask up.
"We are not requiring our customers to prove their vaccination, if you are fully vaccinated, we'll honor that and you can wear no mask in here," Hendrickson said.
The same honor system will apply to the thousands of members of the YMCA of Pikes Peak Region.
Marketing Director Jenna Press points out that some groups of children will still be required to wear masks under the governor's new order.
"Kiddos between (age) 11 and 15, we're still going to need them to wear masks during sports and during our childcare programs," Press said.
The women's apparel store Terre Verde was one of many local businesses that asked customers to wear a mask even before a statewide mandate was enacted last summer. Co-owner Carrie Baker said it's challenging to keep up with all of the changes.
"We have to take everything day-by-day, month-by-month because we want to make sure that we're doing the right," Baker said.
She plans to continue to ask customers to wear masks for now, even if they've been vaccinated because she wants to treat everyone fairly. Baker said she doesn't want her business to contribute to prolonging the virus.
"Once we make this decision, please just come in with integrity and respect, and we'll give that back to you," Baker said.
Terra Verde is not alone in continuing to require masks. Many major retailers like Target, Home Depot, and King Soopers parent company Kroger announced after the CDC decision that they would continue to ask customers to wear masks in their stores.
Other national retailers, including Walmart, Trader Joe's, and Costco have announced that masks will not be required for customers who are fully vaccinated.
A local mask mandate remains in effect in Manitou Springs.