COLORADO SPRINGS — A proposed emergency order requiring masks in Colorado Springs to combat COVID-19 was discussed by Colorado City Council Monday then moved to an agenda in two weeks. Council members want more information from El Paso County Public Health and the city’s legal team.
Business leaders from the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Partnership, Visit Colorado Springs, along with some business executives asked city council to consider the ordinance. They see a threat from COVID-19 to businesses in addition to the health risks.
"Concerned about the risk of losing variances that our communities worked hard to have approved by the state," said Chamber and EDC President and CEO Dirk Draper.
COVID-19 numbers are rising to a level where the state could consider revoking the variances that allowed businesses to reopen. Several people presenting to city council used terms like “tragic” and “devastating” when describing the potential consequences of a second economic shutdown.
"That is my greatest concern is this may very quickly get beyond our control” said Downtown Partnership President and CEO Susan Edmonson. “Our businesses will not be able to rebound a second time."
Protesters waved flags and held up signs against mandatory masks outside city hall ahead of the council's discussion of the ordinance.
“It doesn’t make sense, the numbers don’t support mandating masks,” said Laurel Anne Flahive, one of the protesters.
Protesters see a city ordinance requiring a mask as government over-reach.
"This is about freedom, this is about choice, this is about people making their own decisions, because we're not stupid," said protestor Jan Inman.
Gov. Jared Polis did not rule out a statewide mask mandate in a news conference last Thursday but made clear in his plainest terms yet how he feels about Coloradans and visitors to the state wearing them: “Wear a damn mask!”
He said that local counties and municipalities have a much higher ability to enforce mask orders through local police, deputies and health agencies than the state does, and said that about 60% of Colorado now has mask-wearing or face covering ordinances in place.